Element 113 received the name nihonium by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in June 2016. Nihonium has the symbol Nh. The element is named for Japan, Nihon, literally “land of the rising sun,” being one name for that nation in Japanese. The element was discovered by the Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science in Wako, Saitama, Japan. It’s the first element to be discovered in an Asian country.

New IUPAC guidelines formulated in 2016 require new elements be named after either a mythological character or concept (or an astronomical object named after such a mythological concept), a mineral, a place, or a scientist. Elements in columns 1–16 of the periodic table take the usual suffix -ium. Those in column 17 take the suffix -ine, and those in column 18 the suffix -on. Nihonium is in column 13, hence the -ium ending. Of course, older names for elements may not conform to these guidelines.

Source: “IUPAC is Naming the Four New Elements Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine, and Oganesson.” IUPAC press release. 8 June 2016.

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