Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 1 News List

No-confidence vote today in Japan falls on inauspicious day

REUTERS , TOKYO

Today is the day when Japan's politicians will look each other in the eye, raise their hands to vote on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and say "Go ahead, make my most unlucky day."

It is one of the unluckiest days in the calendar as it is butsumetsu, the day of the death of the Buddha.

This inauspicious day comes around every six days according to the zodiac cycle which is derived from Japan's ancient solar calendar.

A butsumetsu day, which means "everything bad," is, oddly enough, a good day for funerals.

The opposition may be hoping that today is a good day to bury Mori's government as they prepare to submit and vote on a no-confidence motion against Mori's three-party coalition government. The showdown is the latest act in a drama that began nearly two weeks ago when a ruling party rival challenged Mori for his job.

One of the two sides may rue the timing of the vote because, according to Japanese superstition, there is no more unlucky day.

It is said to be the worst possible time to start a new enterprise or open a new business because of the high likelihood of failure -- or so the superstition goes.

Undoubtedly, the speed with which events unfolded may be to blame for this lack of foresight. With enough time for advance scheduling, important political occasions -- such as elections -- are usually scheduled for a lucky day in the zodiac.

Mori's troubles may, in fact, have begun when he himself ignored this fundamental rule and held elections on just such an unlucky butsumetsu day last June.

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