Opposition parties introduced a motion in Parliament Thursday for a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Kiichi Miya-zawa for failing to take action to curb persistent political scandals.
If the no-confidence motion passes, Miyazawa's Cabinet must resign within 10 days or call a lower house election. The turmoil comes at a time when Tokyo prepares to host a summit next month of the seven industrialized powers.Although no-confidence votes have passed in Parliament only three times in postwar Japan, this motion could pass because a pro
reform splinter group in the governing party - mostly younger legislators who want to overhaul the basic workings of Japanese politics - has decided to vote with the op-po-sition.
The Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed for nearly four decades, holds the majority with 274 seats in Parliament's more powerful 512-seat lower house.
Miyazawa, like other prime ministers, may also call elections before the no-confidence motion is put to a vote.
The unusual rift among the Liberal Democrats reflects the acute crisis over corruption in Japanese politics, plagued by a series of money and sex scandals.
A former kingmaker faces trial next month for a huge tax-evasion scandal suspected to involve illegal donations. A former prime minister has been forced to testify in Parliament over his links with gangsters.
Public anger has been growing over Miyazawa's failure to carry out his repeated promises to implement reform before the current parliamentary session ends Sunday.
"The Liberal Democrats have waived promises of political reform to avoid challenges, while hedging on reform. It is shameful that once again, they have in the end failed to carry out their promise," said an editorial Thursday in the national Asahi newspaper.