- While seldom mentioned in UFO chronicles, Japan has been
a major theatre of operations for the phenomenon over the past three decades,
and boasts prehistoric lore that links it closely to the possible presence
of ancient astronauts.
- The most significant postwar sighting turned out to be
singularly dramatic: a luminous object, dangling in the air from an enormous,
darkened craft, was witnessed by many observers over Tokyo Bay in the summer
of 1952. The objects were also picked up by radar, prompting jet fighters
to scramble to intercept. The huge aerial contraption proceeded to elude
the military aircraft with maneuvers never thought possible before. In
the early days of the Cold War, with the Korean conflict still brewing
on the other side of the Sea of Japan, the thought of a surprise attack
by unknown Soviet technology was fresh in every strategist' mind.
- But it wasn't until 22 years later, in June 1974, that
an interceptor--an F4 Phantom--would lock on to its mysterious quarry and
experience the nearest of close encounters: a head-on collision with a
- Originally under the impression that the signal on the
screen was a notoriously errant Soviet Bear bomber, the fighter's crew
was surprised to see that their target was a 40-foot wide disc with square
portholes that could have been viewports or exhausts. When the Phantom
trained its weapons on the object, the intruder hurtled toward it, smashing
the fighter's nose and causing the pilot and weapons officer to eject.
The latter died in the collision, and the Japanese government remained
silent about the event, never acknowledging if the UFO had fallen to the
ground during the "accident". The Phantom's loss was tersely
attributed to "a collision with an unknown object at 30,000 feet."
- The Japanese Air Force's tight-lipped silence was triggered,
perhaps by the number of sightings that had already been reported by civillians.
Four months prior to the Phantom incident, a young woman, Akiko Nakayama,
had come into contact with three strange creatures in a rice paddy in the
village of Hoshimachi. The alien trio re-entered a glowing orange vehicle
that took to the night skies in a matter of seconds, rejoining what was
a veritable armada of UFOs slowly crossing the skies over Japan. Magazines
devoted to the subject of UFOs in both Japan and the U.S. made much of
the fact that Ms. Nakayama's sighting had taken place not too far from
the site of the unique, mysterious prehistoric statue of the Inu-Ningen,
the "man-dog" that has been taken by many to be a depiction of
a prehistoric, nonhuman visitor to our world. This large, perplexing statue,
along with the small Dogu statues (helmeted figures that suggest respirators
and air hoses) have defied all rational explanation.
- In February 1975, near the town of Kofu, two boys walked
around a grounded UFO which bore distinctive "oriental characters"
on its hull (reminiscent, perhaps, of the Oriental script on the object
recovered in Kecksburg, PA in 1965). The youngsters reported seeing "a
ladder emerge from the craft" and a Klaatu-esque, silver-clad entity
descend toward them. In what can best be described as a case of "unrequited
contact", the boys broke and ran from the spot in abject terror. One
of the children's parents was later able to confirm having seen an unusual
craft rising skywards from the direction in which the boys had run.But
by September of that very same year, UFOs would be seen by everyone living
in western Japan, prompting a deluge of phone calls to the authorities.
A Japan Air Lines DC-8 was "tailed" by an unknown device for
twenty minutes until it landed safely at a local airport.
- The sightings were building up to a climax: in 1976,
fifty witnesses beheld a golden UFO in the early morning hours of October
17th. The scintillating disk remained suspended in mid-air for ten minutes,
prompting the air traffic controllers at Akita Airport to warn all approaching
planes of the potential obstacle. The crowd of witnesses included members
of the Japanese media, who had been filming a documentary on pilot instruction
at the airport. Earlier in the year, a dark UFO had hovered directly over
the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, its maneuvers witnessed by agents of the
National Police from their office building.
- The increasing frequency of the sightings became such
that in 1977, the country's first official investigation of the phenomenon
was launched under the auspices of the Japanese Air Force, with inconclusive
- The phenomenon did not wait around for the government
findings either: strange globes of light were seen flying around Mount
Senohara in 1982, and two years later, the crew of a passenger jet reported
seeing what first appeared to be the mushroom cloud following a nuclear
detonation, rising to a height of sixty thousand feet and expanding to
a diameter of a hundred miles before dissolving altogether. No explanation
was offered for this event.
- UFOs are not the only enigma bewildering the Japanese.
In the summer of 1986, a circular, levelled "crop circle" was
discovered in Yamagata, constituting the first instance of this mystery's
appearance in Japan.
- Like the United States, Japan has either the fortune
or ill luck of being located next to one of the dozen or so anomalous areas
that surround the planet. The Devil's Triangle, the Pacific Ocean's equivalent
of the Bermuda Triangle, which extends from the Japanese archipelago to
the Marianas, covering an area of tremendously deep marine trenches and
underwater volcanoes. Aside from the legendary number of disappearances
recorded as having taken place in or near the site, frequent UFO sightings
have also been reported, suggesting the possibility of a natural aberration
that serves as a materialization spot for the phenomenon.
- The crew of the Kitsukawa Maru reported, in April
1952, an encounter with a pair of wingless, silver disks that plunged into
the ocean off the port bow. The ship's captain promptly noted the event,
which occured at the edge of the nineteen thousand foot deep trench surrounding
Japan. In 1967, a number of U.S. fighters were sent after a formation of
UFOs off Okinawa, which had been picked up on radar.
- There have been indications that the Japanese government
is possibly ready to re-open its investigations into the UFO enigma: at
the International UFO and Space Symposium, held in Hakui City in
the fall of 1991, then prime minister Toshiki Kaifu expressed an opinion
that "it was time to take the UFO situation seriously." Time
will tell if his suggestion will be taken with equal seriousness.