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Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of New Komeito, said Sunday that Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi should resign over a money scandal involving former SDP policy chief Kiyomi Tsujimoto.

Tsujimoto was arrested Friday.

Speaking on a TV Asahi talk show, Fuyushiba said, “(Doi) should take responsibility.”

Fuyushiba is a heavyweight in the tripartite ruling coalition, which also comprises the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Conservative Party.

Police arrested Tsujimoto, a one-time leading lawmaker in the party; Masako Goto, Doi’s longtime aide; and two others on suspicion of misappropriating money intended for the salaries of Tsujimoto’s policy secretaries.

Tsujimoto, 43, left the House of Representatives after the scandal surfaced in March 2002.

She is suspected of paying the two female secretaries only a fraction of the more than 15 million yen the government allocated for their salaries, the Tokyo police said.

Goto, 66, allegedly introduced the two female aides to Tsujimoto.

Referring to the latest media reports that the arrangements took place at Doi’s office in the No. 2 Diet members’ building in Tokyo, Fuyushiba said “(If the report is true) it is impossible for (Doi) to continue serving as the party leader or to say she is surprised to see Tsujimoto or Goto being arrested.”

Fuyushiba told reporters after the program, “At least the party leader should resign since her policy secretary was arrested.

“If she doesn’t, it will be impossible to eliminate public distrust in politics. It is the natural thing to do in the public eye.”

Also on the program, SDP Secretary General Mizuho Fukushima expressed regret over the allegations.

Fukushima also said that her party has been tackling so-called money politics issues and will do its best to regain public trust.

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