Almost a half century ago, Japan’s biggest political scandal saw the prime minister convicted of taking bribes and a porn actor attempt to murder a fixer in a kamikaze plane attack on his home.

The funding affair that’s currently gripping the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party might lack the level of drama of what is known as the Lockheed case. But don’t dismiss this new one as another low-stakes Tokyo transgression. This incident, which involves hidden slush funds and has ensnared multiple lawmakers spoken about as potential future premiers, could upend the entire political system in what might be right now the U.S.’ most important ally.

The world’s press, which often focuses on quirky or salacious "Weird Japan” tales, isn’t yet too interested — at the time of writing, the scandal had yet to feature in the pages of the New York Times. Yet Tobias Harris, the Japan political expert and Shinzo Abe biographer, wrote recently that this is a "once-in-a-generation political crisis” with likely far-reaching ramifications.