Japan's Prime Minister Won't Say Why He Won't Move Into His Haunted Mansion

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Unconfirmed believer in the paranormal and full-time prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, still hasn't moved into the Koutei, a Tokyo mansion where prime ministers of Japan are supposed to live, since coming into power in December. His political opponents are now mocking Abe for being afraid of ghosts — and having looked into the history of the place, well, we don't exactly blame him. 

"There are rumours that the official residence is haunted by ghosts. Is it true? Does Prime Minister Abe refuse to move to the official residence because of the rumours?" So reads a letter obtained by the Agence France Presse, send by an unnamed opposition member to Abe's cabinet. Because politics is politics, that opposition member is trying to turn said rumors into questions about Abe's courage — the anonymous politician insisted that Abe's delay in moving "could delay Abe's response time in emergencies," the AFP reports. It's the infamous and unending 3 a.m. phone call all over again.

But this elected rumor-mongerer might be onto something about the paranormal activity inside the Koutei, which is right next to the Kantei, Abe's executive office. The prime minister's residence does have a pretty scary-sounding history: "There are bullet holes on the glass above the main entrance, said to have been left when the residence came under attack during a number of coup attempts as Japan went down the path to militarism in the 1930s," reads a 2012 report from The Wall Street JournalOne of those coup attempts ended with the murder of a prime minister.

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"It was in May 1932 that a revolt within the same property led by naval officers resulted in the murder of Tsuyoshi Inukai, the then prime minister, before the captors surrendered to the military police," The Telegraph's Danielle Demetriou writes, and adds: "The same official residence was occupied by rebel troops for four days in 1936 after 1,400 of them stormed Tokyo's government district, resulting in the death of several political leaders." Creepy. And according to The Journal, one prime minister heard boots and footsteps and found no one, while others have said they saw apparitions of men in uniforms on the Koutei's grounds.  (Full disclosure: This writer is scared of his own television's "sleep" button and cannot sit through this trailer without wanting to burst into tears.)

Since it's the official residence of Japan's prime ministers, the Koutei isn't exactly all-access, so ghost hunters and journalists haven't spent a lot of quality time investigating. But Abe did live at the property in 2006-2007 when he was prime minister for a short period. "The fact that he has not yet moved into the residence five months after coming to power for the second time has prompted speculation that the prime minister and wife may not have enjoyed their first stay in the property," writes The Telegraph's Demetriou. 

Abe's cabinet answered the letter on Friday, stating: "We do not assent to what was asked." Which is sort of how you expect serious government officials to answer silly questions, but that doesn't exactly calm our fears about the Koutei.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.