TOKYO — Prime Minister Sosuke Uno, chosen by the governing party as a "Mr. Clean" to rescue it from scandal, was kept busy Wednesday denying he might resign because of allegations about his sexual conduct.
In exchanges with reporters throughout the day, Uno repeatedly denied reports that, in meetings late Tuesday, leaders of his Liberal Democratic Party had to persuade him not to resign over allegations he kept paid mistresses.
As Uno was denying reports he planned to resign, an employee at the prime minister's residence and a party aide told reporters that Uno was put to bed Tuesday night by senior party members staying there to discuss the scandal.
"I thought he might have had a nervous breakdown last night," the aide said.
"The whole thing is he freaked out over how he's going to appear overseas at the (Paris) summit next month," he said.
"He's afraid those leaders won't even want to shake hands with him."
Uno is scheduled to attend a summit of the world's seven top industrialized nations in the French capital.
Uno said Wednesday, "I'm not such an irresponsible person" as to resign before making political reforms he promised on taking office June 2. He told lawmakers and businessmen at a trade meeting that he will attend the summit.
Despite Uno's denials, stock prices in Tokyo plunged Wednesday.
Reports about Uno's alleged "woman problem" have increased in the past week.
Mitsuko Nakanishi, a former geisha, said on television Sunday that the prime minister, who is married, paid her to be his mistress in 1985. The same allegation had appeared in a national magazine, without naming Nakanishi.
Two weekly magazines said later that Uno had kept two other mistresses.
One reported that a former geisha known professionally as Hatsuko said she was paid 100,000 yen ($700) a month for 10 years until 1985. The other quoted his former secretary as saying that, from 1962 to 1972, Uno paid an unknown sum to a Ginza bar hostess identified only as Ms. Y, who became pregnant and had an abortion.
In Parliament earlier this week, Uno would not answer questions about the alleged affair.