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No ghosts spotted 'yet'

No ghosts spotted 'yet' as Japan's most famous haunted house finally gets a new occupant

It was born out of an earthquake and became the backdrop for two military uprisings, a string of assassinations, and an exorcism.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that the Japanese prime minister’s official residence is believed to be haunted. For the last decade, the red brick art deco Sori Kotei building in the heart of Tokyo has lain empty, with both of the previous premiers refusing to live there. But last weekend, newly elected prime minister Fumio Kishida decided to brave it despite all the ghost stories. Asked how he got on after his first few nights in the historic building, Mr Kishida boasted: “I slept soundly.” He is the first since 2012 to do so. Mr Kishida’s predecessor Yoshihide Suga opted to live in a nearby apartment during his one-year stint in power, while Shinzo Abe kept living in his own home in Tokyo.

No ghosts spotted 'yet' as Japan's most famous haunted house finally gets a new occupant

In 2013, Mr Abe’s cabinet was forced to officially deny reports of spirits in the 1929 home after persistent questions about why he had not moved into the property even though it reportedly costs taxpayers around 160 million yen (£1.06 million) a year to maintain. But the real reason could well be its grisly history. The imposing stone-and-brick structure was designed by government architect Muraji Shimomoto in the aftermath of the devastation of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Spanning nearly 55,800 square feet, it is a symbol of the emergence of Japan’s 20th century modernism – but also quickly became the setting for violence. Among them was a high-profile attempted coup in May 1932, during which then-prime minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated at the residence by a group of naval officers.

No ghosts spotted 'yet' as Japan's most famous haunted house finally gets a new occupant

Four years later, the so-called February 26 incident saw a radical faction of the Imperial Army murder several senior officials, including the finance minister, during an attempted coup. Ever since, there have been persistent rumours that the residence is haunted. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi was so worried that he reportedly summoned a Shinto priest to the residence in 2001 to carry out an exorcism before he moved in. He believed it worked and ended up living there until 2006. “I’ve never encountered any ghosts, although I want to see them,” he told reporters.

The last premier to brave the house was Yoshihiko Noda in 2011. When asked if he ever got spooked by the place, Mr Noda told the Wall Street Journal: “Parliament is much more scary." For Mr Kishida, who came to power two months ago, moving in meant one thing: being closer to parliament. “I decided to move because I think it would be beneficial for me to concentrate on my public duties,” he said. Asked whether he had glimpsed the restless ghosts of murdered politicians rumoured to walk the halls, he simply replied: “I haven’t seen any - yet.” ARTICLE:

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