Gov't denies rumors of ghosts at PM's official residence

The government on Friday denied rumors that the prime minister's official residence is haunted, in response to a question from an opposition lawmaker.

Given that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has yet to move into the 80-year-old mansion five months after assuming power in December, Ken Kagaya, an upper house member of the Democratic Party of Japan, asked the government if rumors that the building is haunted are true.

The building was formerly the prime ministerial office and was the scene of a failed coup in 1936 in which young military officers died.

"We are not aware" of any ghosts, the government's written response said.

Abe commutes every morning in a motorcade from his home in Tokyo to the current prime minister's office, a few minutes' walk from the official residence.

"It is true that there are many rumors," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. The response to Kagaya's question was meant to "express what we can think of currently," the top government spokesman added.

Pressed about when Abe would move into the official residence, Suga only said, "I just want him to work in the most favorable environment."