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Tuesday, 27 January, 1998, 02:27 GMT
Japan finance minister pledges reform after scandal

Japanese Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka pledged on Tuesday to carry out a drastic reform of the Finance Ministry to make its administrative operations more transparent, following the arrests of two ministry bank inspectors on Monday.

"I will newly set up a division within the ministry to supervise its operations so that it can prevent such a scandal from occurring again, and I will investigate the cause of the scandal thoroughly," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting, Kyodo news agency reported.

Asked if he would resign to take responsibility for the scandal, he responded.

"I will make utmost efforts to regain people's trust in the Finance Ministry and to reform the organization.

This is how I will take responsibility for the scandal as a finance minister." Prosecutors arrested the ministry's two bank inspectors on Monday on suspicion of receiving millions of yen worth of bribes from four major banks.

"I will make it clear who was responsible for the scandal, including not only the inspectors who were arrested, but also their supervisors," Mitsuzuka said.

He had spoken with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto about the scandal but there had been no mention of his resignation.

Kyodo said calls for his resignation from opposition parties had been growing due to the successive failures of major financial institutions and the prolonged slump in the nation's economy.

"Mr Hashimoto told me that he is very concerned about the scandal, and he ordered me to cooperate with other ministers to regain the people's trust," Mitsuzuka said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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