Sori Kotei, Japan
’s PM house in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district is said to be haunted by ghosts
Nine months into his second term as Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe has yet to move into his official residence in Tokyo - fuelling rumours the house is haunted.
Built in 1929 and surrounded by a perfectly tended Japanese garden, the house is located in the heart of Nagatacho, the capital's political district, and has witnessed murders and coup attempts in the past.
Abe, who lived there during his first brief tenure in 2006-07, refused to move back into the red-bricked, art deco building upon taking office again last December.
The conservative politician prefers to make a 15-minute car commute from his family's house to the office and seems to have no intention of changing his mind.
Abe's decision has nourished sinister legends about ghosts haunting the residence, also prompting a parliamentary interrogation.
Odd stories have swirled around the house since 1932, when its floors were first stained in blood.
That year, then-prime minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated at the residence by 11 young naval officers, who shot him dead during a failed coup d'état.
Four years later the house known as Sori Kotei was surrounded by a radical faction of the imperial Japanese army during another coup.
Four policemen were killed in a shootout with rebel soldiers in the so-called February 26 Incident.
Prime Minister Keisuke Okada, who was inside the house as it was assaulted, went into hiding upon hearing gunfire.
However rebels found Okada's brother Col Denzō Matsuo at the premises and reportedly executed him after mistaking him for his brother, due to the siblings' strong resemblance.
Bullet holes and gunfire marks still mark the house entrance. Ghosts of men wearing military gear are said to have often been sighted in a nearby garden over the years.
"I was told that there are many people clad in military uniform in the garden," Yasuko Hata, the wife of former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata who served in 1994, was quoted as saying by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
In May an opposition MP submitted an official inquiry asking whether nationalist prime minister Abe, who has a strongman reputation, had not moved in yet because he was afraid of ghosts.
"There are rumours that the official residence is haunted by ghosts related to the Feb. 26 Incident and other affairs. Are they true?" the inquiry read.
The government said it was "not aware" of the ghost tales, insisting that Abe believed the 11-room property too big for his needs.
In June Abe dismissed the rumours as "urban folklore" during a television appearance but admitted he had "heard that former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori saw part of a ghost."
According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, he went further at a couple of weeks ago during a dinner at the residence with executives of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
"Why don't we live here together? I am frightened," Abe was quoted as answering LDP senior member Masashi Waki, who had asked why he had not moved in yet.
"I do not feel like living here because there are ghosts," Abe reportedly said.
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