Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, facing the his biggest political crisis, briefed parliament yesterday on donations he received from the Recruit Corporation, the firm at the heart of the current scandal. But after three hours of tough questioning in a Budget Committee session, opposition members of parliament said his comments raised more questions than they answered.
Mr. Takeshita said political donations from the Recruit publishing and telecommunications group to his political support organizations, which he said totaled $720,000 in 1987, were all above board.
He said he had not included Recruit shares received by his secretaries or large donations given by Recruit at a fund-raising party in the northern city of Morioka in 1987, saying the event was organized by a private voluntary group.
Challenged about a statement he made to parliament last year in which he said he had personally received no money from Recruit, he said, ``I vaguely recall being asked about this last year in parliament. If I answered in that way, it means my memory was vague at the time. It would be safe to retract my answer from last year.''
Recruit is charged with making contributions to a large number of politicians and other public figures to advance its business.
``There are grave suspicions left unanswered,'' said Japan Socialist Party's Shun Oiide, chairman of the opposition parties' Diet (parliament) Committee. ``There is no other way out of this but [to] ask for his resignation and general elections.''
Three Cabinet ministers have resigned and 13 people have been arrested in the scandal. The popularity rating of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has fallen to all-time lows.