Hirohisa Fujii, secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said Sunday that former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto should resign from the Diet for allegedly receiving an undeclared 100 million yen donation from a dentists’ group.

Fujii’s remark, made on a discussion program on Fuji TV in the morning, came after Hashimoto said Friday he would resign as head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction and indicated he may retire from politics in a few years.

Responding to a suggestion that Hashimoto should resign his Diet seat now, Fujii said, “I think so, too.”

Resigning as faction leader “is like plea bargaining (with investigative authorities) . . . the public can see this,” Fujii said.

DPJ lawmakers filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors against Hashimoto, who reportedly received a check for 100 million yen in July 2001 from the then chairman of the Japan Dental Association.

The check was cashed and deposited into the Hashimoto faction’s bank account but was not reported in the political funds report that year. Hashimoto has said he does not remember accepting the check.

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