(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida apologized in an unprecedented parliamentary ethics hearing broadcast live on Thursday for public distrust caused by a slush-fund scandal, pledging to reform regulations.  

In the first such appearance by a sitting prime minister, Kishida tried to change perceptions that he hasn’t done enough to clamp down over the scandal, which has led to arrests and indictments and prompted some ministers and party executives to step down.

Kishida himself hasn’t been the focus of the allegations, but the fallout sent support for his government to the lowest in more than 20 years in one poll this month. A continued slide could mean his Liberal Democratic Party seeks to replace him in a party leadership election in September. 

“I apologize sincerely as the party leader,” he told the committee. He added that he aimed to revise a law regulating political funding so that not just accounting staff, but also lawmakers themselves can be held accountable for serious violations. 

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