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Saturday, Sept. 2, 2000
Mori's house has odd occupants
By YOKO HANI
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is less than happy about the state of his official residence, saying the many mice that scurry through the dwelling are not the aging residence's only unwanted visitors -- "Some say there are ghosts as well," he said.
Mori's comments came during the videotaping this week of a television program. In the past, he has often described the Prime Minister's Official Residence as a "business hotel with bad service."
Although Mori "has not seen any ghosts yet," he said the old building has an eerie quality in the evening after its several hundred day-staff go home.
"It feels like I am staying in a night watchman's room at a business office," Mori said.
The complex was built in February 1929, based on a design by Muraji Shimomura (1888-1984), which he based on the style of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959).
Many recent prime ministers have also complained about the outdated facilities in the residence's private quarters, including Tomiichi Murayama, who said "I often heard noises coming from the ceiling as if weasels were running around."
In the wake of the April 2 collapse of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who lapsed into a coma after suffering a stroke, the Cabinet secretariat has said it plans to install medical care facilities in the new official residence complex now under construction. It is scheduled to be completed in fiscal 2001.
Until then, however, Mori may have to live with the antiquated facilities and unusual denizens of his official residence.