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Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told a Diet committee Monday that he would resign as prime minister immediately if it would help change the gloomy economic climate hanging over the nation.”But things are not that easy,” Hashimoto said angrily, in reply to a demand from an opposition lawmaker that Hashimoto “take political responsibility,” or quit, for inviting the current economic slowdown through his policy failure. “What is important is to swiftly carry out government-planned steps to stabilize the nation’s financial markets and to boost the economy,” Hashimoto stressed during a session of the Lower House Budget Committee.Hashimoto refused a demand that he offer a public apology over what the opposition camp said was a series of policy mistakes that have led to the current economic slump. The prime minister made the remark after Hajime Ishii of Minyuren, the largest opposition force, said the stock market’s movement has reflected its disappointment with the haphazard policies of the Hashimoto administration.Hashimoto stressed that the quick passage of the fiscal 1997 supplementary budget plan, which features the 2 trillion yen special cut in income and residential taxes, will be indispensable for improving the economy.Ishii said that further deliberations on the bill and other government-proposed bills to stabilize the financial markets will be held after the ruling camp agrees with the opposition to summon two lawmakers to the committee concerning money-related scandals. One of the two is Shokei Arai, a Lower House member of Hashimoto’s Liberal Democratic Party and a former official of the Finance Ministry, who is alleged to have received profits worth 40 million yen from Nikko Securities Co. through dubious equity investments, Ishii said.

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