Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita told parliament Tuesday that he received $1 million from the company at the center of a highly damaging bribery scandal, but he rejected opposition demands that he resign.
Takeshita's statement was a reversal of earlier comments that he had not received money from Recruit Co., an information and publishing conglomerate."I am feeling my political and moral responsibilities very strongly," he told parliament's budget committee. "I think it is important to settle this matter legally and politically as soon as possible."
A series of recent news reports linking Takeshita to Recruit had prompted the prime minister to explain his role in the widening scandal.
"I am aware the Recruit scandal is the most serious matter I have ever experienced in the 38 years of my political career," he said during the nationally televised committee hearing.
"Political reform is essential to overcome the current situation and restore public trust in politics."
Takeshita said Recruit and its subsidiaries gave about $1 million between 1985 and 1987 to his political organizations in the form of donations and purchases of fund-raising party tickets while he was finance minister and secretary-general of the governing Liberal Democratic Party.
The prime minister said the money was treated as political donations, not bribes.
Asked by opposition lawmaker Kanji Kawasaki of the Japan Socialist Party what his understanding was of Recruit's intention in making such large donations, Takeshita replied: "I am not in a position of telling the intent of another party's political donations."