「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Business is a Numbers Game

By Mike Dwane


As I lay in hospital recovering from a broken shoulder, visiting friends would tell me how lucky I was not to have been killed in the car accident which left me there.

"What do you mean lucky? I'm in hospital," I would reply.

A hospital is largely a place of science, and luck, you might think, doesn't enter into the equation.

Visiting a relative in hospital last week, I was told he was in room 12. And there it was, right next door to room 14. But where was room 13?

I could only assume that hospitals have no room 13 for the same reason you can't buy a plane ticket on row 13 or take the elevator to the 13th floor in many hotels. The number is considered unlucky in Western culture.

It's for the same reason that the Irish government has changed the system of car registration this year. Ireland, as anybody with an interest in economics will know, has been going through a tough time. Portugal, Ireland and Greece — or the three little PIGs as some call us — are among the EU countries that have had to be rescued by the International Monetary Fund.

Unemployment here is high, taxes have risen and wages have been cut. And that's why car sales have slumped, with imports down almost 60 percent since the economy crashed in 2007. More bad news for Japan was that in 2012, Toyota was overtaken by Volkswagen as Ireland's most popular manufacturer.

An Irish licence plate registered up until this year might have read 10-D-23450, meaning the car was sold and first registered in Dublin (the "D" stands for Dublin) in 2010. And a car bought in Dublin this year would have read 13-D, but for the intervention of the motor industry.

They successfully argued that people would be put off buying cars if the licence plate started with an unlucky 13. The government listened and this year cars are registered 131 if sold in the first six months of the year and 132 in the latter half.

When I lived in Tokyo, I was struck by the significance many Japanese attach to lucky numbers and unlucky dates and years. When my wife and I were preparing to get married, our wedding planner told us it would be cheaper to get married on dates considered less auspicious.

I'm not sure if the number 13 means anything in Japan, but apparently it is considered lucky in Korea. When he joined Manchester United FC, the footballer Park Ji-Sung chose to wear number 13 on his shirt for good luck.

Park has since left the club but Manchester United fans now have another Asian superstar to cheer in Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese player wears number 26, so hopefully this means he will be twice as lucky — or twice as good — as Park.



The Japan Times ST: May 3, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版