Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continued to criticize The Asahi Shimbun over its coverage of a dubious sale of state-owned land, while opposition party members blasted him for evading more pertinent points in the scandal.

The scandal, which has dominated discussions in the Diet, centers around the huge discount that school operator Moritomo Gakuen received in 2016 to buy state-owned land for the construction of a private elementary school.

During the Diet debate, the prime minister has repeatedly criticized an Asahi report printed last year that said Moritomo Gakuen at one time planned to name the school the “Shinzo Abe commemorative elementary school.”

In response to Abe’s criticism, the Asahi in its Feb. 6 edition published a long article that explained the background to its earlier stories about the sale to Moritomo Gakuen.

An Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party touched upon the Asahi article on his Facebook account that day.

Later, an entry appeared from Abe’s Facebook account, which said about the Feb. 6 article: “It is pathetic. A deplorable excuse typical of Asahi. It was as I expected.”

In the Feb. 13 Lower House Budget Committee, Masato Imai of the opposition Kibo no To (Hope) asked Abe if he himself posted the entry to his Facebook account.

“I wrote it,” Abe replied.

Opposition party members have criticized the prime minister for failing to address what they considered more significant points related to the sale of the state-owned land.

They have suggested that the discount was offered mainly because of Moritomo Gakuen’s connections to Abe’s wife, Akie, who had been named honorary principal of the planned elementary school.

Imai, for example, said Nobuhisa Sagawa, then director-general of the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau, made “falsehoods” in the Diet last year when he was responding to questions about discussions between Moritomo Gakuen and ministry officials over the land deal.

Sagawa said all documents related to the discussions had been discarded.

But the Finance Ministry in recent days has released documents related to the negotiations between ministry officials and Moritomo Gakuen.

“I do not think it is fair to simply ignore such developments,” Imai said.

In its Feb. 6 article, the Asahi explained that it ran an interview with Yasunori Kagoike, the former head of Moritomo Gakuen, in May 2017 following the release of a document by the Finance Ministry. That paper explained Moritomo Gakuen’s intent to establish the elementary school, but much of the document, including its title, were blacked out.

Six months after the interview article, the ministry finally released the document with the title indicating the planned school would be called Kaisei elementary school.

The Asahi published an article the following day reporting on the name of the elementary school as well as its past coverage.

Other opposition parties criticized Abe for continuing to target the Asahi.

“It is in extremely bad taste for the prime minister to call out the name of a specific newspaper for criticism,” Akira Koike, head of the Central Committee secretariat for the Japanese Communist Party, said at a Feb. 13 news conference.

Seiji Mataichi, secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party, said about Abe, “His method concerning the mass media is to use those that are ‘convenient’ and to attack those that are not.”