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Mori apologizes, but faces no confidence vote

Mori parliament
Mori faces a no-confidence vote, which is likely to take place on Friday  

TOKYO, Japan -- Japan's embattled Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is apologizing for the loss of honor to his party, after a former labor minister was arrested for corruption.

His apology comes as political opponents plan to file a no-confidence motion against Mori's goverment.

Masakuni Murakami, one of a "Gang of Four" in the Liberal Democratic Party, was picked up on suspicion of bribery. He had supported Mori for the top job last year.

Officials believe Murakami accepted bribes worth about $615,000 from KSD, a scandal-tainted foundation.

The arrest could not have come at a worse time for Mori.

His support is in single digits, his party faces an election for the Upper House of parliament in July, and the opposition has said it will submit a no-confidence motion against him.

The move will be filed as soon as the budget for this fiscal year, which begins in April, passes the Lower House on Friday.

Mori's coalition partners have said they would vote against the motion, but one party, the New Komeito, insists Mori and the LDP must shoulder responsibility for the latest scandal.

'Mandate from heaven'

But Political turmoil and low popularity ratings have not yet discouraged Mori from staying in power.

"Keeping in mind every day that I receive warm encouragements and rebukes from people of all walks of life, I would like to make a wise decision on what I should do as a politician," Mori told the Lower House budget committee.

"It isn't as if I can ask someone to take my place just because I have achieved one thing. It is a mandate from heaven for me to make efforts day by day," he said.

Mori's comments sparked speculation that he was hinting to resign after parliament passes the budget for the coming fiscal year from April.

However, he later told reporters that his comment had nothing to do with any kind of resignation talk.

"It had nothing to do with that," Kyodo news agency quoted Mori as saying. "I was talking about policies."

Pundits and media have feverishly been speculating scenarios for Mori's exit, including an early bet that saw him bowing out as early as on Friday, when the budget for the fiscal year from April 1 will be passed by the Lower House.

However, the scenario has been losing favor due to an apparent lack of consensus over who should succeed him.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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