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A ghost story surrounding Japanese PM’s residence

Posted June. 03, 2013 03:00,   


A ghost story surrounding Japanese Prime Minister’s official residence is snowballing after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said “I heard the story from the former prime minister” to a question whether he had heard about the rumor that ghosts appear at the residence.

Prime Minister Abe said on a TV program on Saturday that the ghost story was just a rumor. But he continued, “Mori (former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori who served between 2000 and 2001) told me he saw some part of ghosts.” When asked which part was seen, Abe said with a smile, “It was legs though people say ghosts do not have legs.”

Abe has not moved into the official residence for more than five months since his taking office on Dec. 26 last year. Rumors had it that he didn’t move because of ghosts. Rep. Kagaya Ken of the Democratic Party sent a letter to the government two weeks ago to ask if ghosts really exists in the residence, and the official answer by the Cabinet was “we do not know.”

The ghost story surrounding the prime minister’s residence has a long history. Since the residence was built in 1929, it had been used as the office building for prime ministers until 2002. After a large-scale renovation, the building began to be used as the official residence since 2005. A new office building was built next to the residence. In the residential building, former Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai and policemen were assassinated during a coup by young officers in 1932, and Denzo Matsuo, then Prime Minister Keisuke Okada`s brother in-law and secretary, was killed also during a coup by young officers in 1936.

After these incidents, ghost stories, such as “The sound of combat boots is heard in the middle of the night,” began to spread and former Japanese prime ministers avoided moving into the residence. The building was left empty for 32 years until 1968 when then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato moved in after renovation. He commuted to the office from his home in the beginning but later moved in as protests against U.S.-Japan Security Agreement caused inconvenience to his neighbors. Nevertheless, Sato’s successors continued refraining from moving into the official residence. Until 2002, six among 18 former prime ministers, including Tanaka Kakuei, hadn’t moved into the residence.