The Democratic Party of Japan said Tuesday it will demand that arrested lawmaker Joji Yamamoto resign from the House of Representatives, party officials said.

The decision, following Yamamoto’s arrest Monday for alleged fraud, was made at a meeting of DPJ executives in the Diet building.

“It is the most serious crisis since the party’s establishment (in September 1996),” DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama was quoted as telling the session.

If Yamamoto, 37, does not resign before the extra Diet session scheduled for this month, the DPJ may submit to the Diet a nonbinding motion calling for his resignation, they said.

Yamamoto stood down from the DPJ shortly before his arrest Monday by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of keeping 20 million yen the state tried to pay a woman who was registered as his secretary over a period of four years.

He allegedly took the cash over nearly four years from his first election to the Lower House in October 1996, prosecution sources said.

Yamamoto registered the woman as his government-paid secretary in charge of policy affairs, a role she never held, the sources said.

He allegedly paid the woman between 50,000 yen and 100,000 yen a month and used the rest to pay his office rent and for political activities, they said.

Another secretary who worked for Yamamoto between October 1996 and late last month received only 4 million yen a year from Yamamoto’s office instead of 7.5 million yen, the sources said.

Satsuki Eda, a DPJ Upper House member who met with Yamamoto on Monday afternoon, quoted him as saying that “what has been reported by the media is quite different from what I realize.”

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