The Japanese government has issued a formal statement denying knowledge of rumors that the prime minister's official residence is haunted by ghosts. Shinzo Abe is yet to move into the dwelling five months after he assumed power in December, prompting lawmakers to question the new prime minister's thinking.

Government 'unaware' of ghosts

Since this is Abe's second spell in office after he resigned in 2007 amid illness and scandals, some have wondered if he had a bad experience last time he stayed at the residence. In a letter of inquiry, said the Asahi Shimbun, Ken Kagaya of the rival Democratic Party asked if ghosts are the reason Abe is yet to move in. The Cabinet issued a curt response saying that it was "unaware" of any such rumors.

Built in 1929, the residence was formerly used as the prime minister's office and has a bloody history. One prime minister was assassinated there in 1932, and four years later several officials were killed in an attempted military coup known in Japan as the February 26th Incident.

Rumors of hauntings have long dogged the residence, and the topic has come up a few times in Japanese political discourse. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, for example, told reporters in 2006 that although he wanted to see a ghost there, he never managed to. Abe's predecessor Yoshihiko Noda echoed Koizumi's experiences, telling the Wall Street Journal last year that "the parliament is much more scary."