The Moritomo Gakuen scandal — concerning the sale of an 8,770-square-meter government-owned property in Osaka Prefecture for ¥134 million, or a mere 14 percent of its appraisal value, for the construction of a new elementary school for which the first lady, Akie Abe, was an honorary principal — has once again rocked the nation. The issue has been the central topic of deliberation in the Diet, with opposition lawmakers grilling national government officials.

To be honest, I believe it would be better, in terms of the national interest, to discuss more important issues, such as the North Korean problem and work-style reforms to boost labor productivity.

But every day, major newspapers and TV stations repeatedly take up the scandal. In the Diet, many opposition members focus on the issue as they try to drive the government into a corner. As a result, the popular approval ratings of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have dramatically declined to less than 40 percent, and they have been exceeded by disapproval ratings in almost all media surveys. It is said that this scandal could be a mortal wound for the Abe administration, which has lasted for more than five years. The Moritomo scandal is no longer a negligible matter.