March 23, 2017 / 2:24 AM / a year ago

Nikkei falls to 1-1/2 month low, investor focus on political scandal

* School principal says he received donation from first lady

* Nintendo falls on profit-taking

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 23 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average fell to a 1-1/2 month low in choppy trade on Thursday morning as a political scandal centering on the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sapped domestic investor sentiment.

The Nikkei was down 0.4 percent at 18,973.75 in mid-morning trade, its lowest intraday level since Feb. 9, after opening a tad higher. At 0145 GMT, the index was nearly flat.

On Thursday morning, the principal of a Japanese nationalist school said in a testimony to parliament that he received a donation of 1 million yen ($8,980) from the prime minister’s wife in 2015. Prime Minister Abe has previously denied that his wife donated 1 million yen to the school on his behalf.

Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities, said that the testimony is souring investors’ appetite for risk, with most staying on the sidelines.

“The testimony is the biggest event of the day, so all the eyes are on it,” said Miura.

Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 0.4 percent, Honda Motor Co rising 0.3 percent and Panasonic Corp shedding 0.2 percent.

The dollar was up 0.2 percent at 111.345 yen, enjoying a bit of respite after sliding to a four-month low of 110.735 on Wednesday, when it fell for the seventh straight session.

Nintendo Co, which was up earlier after a regulatory filing showed BlackRock owns over five percent of stock in the company, dropped 2 percent on profit-taking.

Nintendo shares had been rising over the past five days on hopes for strong demand in its Switch console.

The broader Topix dropped 0.1 percent to 1,528.36 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.1 percent to 13,666.82. (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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