Why People Say Japan Is A UFO Hot Spot

Think about the typical way UFO sightings appear in movies and on TV — they often happen in a rural setting, with a small number of witnesses baffled by the sight of some unexplainable object that darts off, leaving them grasping to make sense of what they had seen. Such scenarios have become a TV trope over the last 70 years, in part due to the famous 1947 Roswell, New Mexico incident, when a family of ranchers discovered strange wreckage that the Roswell Army Air Field said was a "flying saucer." Since then, there have been countless UFO sightings across America.

But despite pop culture continuing to suggest that UFO sightings are a typically American phenomenon, the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on potential alien encounters. While data released by the Pentagon does indeed indicate that the U.S. contains several UFO hot spots, there are many others across the globe — most notably in Japan, where sightings have become an obsession for many locals, particularly in Fukushima.

The findings of Fukushima's UFO Lab

Many of the headlines coming out of Japan regarding potential sightings of alien spacecraft come from the province of Fukushima. In 2021, in the district of Iinomachi, Takeharu Mikami — editor-in-chief of the occult and strange phenomena magazine Mu — was appointed director of the newly opened International UFO Lab, which seeks to collate and verify evidence of alien sightings. Speaking at the grand opening of the lab, Mikami said (via The Asahi Shimbun): "It will be a research institute that will attract worldwide attention. We'd like people to provide us with a lot of information." 

On June 25, 2023, Mikami and his team held a press conference in which they revealed their findings thus far, according to The Japan News. They announced that of the 452 pieces of potential UFO evidence that had been submitted to the International UFO Lab since its opening in 2021, 125 photos and 24 videos appeared to legitimately show potential extra-terrestrial objects. Four of the images were released to the public.

Despite the International UFO Lab's insistence that numerous pieces of evidence prove extra-terrestrial objects have been sighted over Japan, the government itself has thus far shown little interest in attempting to corroborate the lab's findings. Whereas the U.S. military has declassified various pieces of footage over the years, Japan is insistent that no unusual aerial phenomena have ever been encountered by its aircraft personnel, per The Telegraph.

What the Pentagon says

The team behind the UFO Lab in Fukushima may be written off by some as eccentrics or cranks, but the fact is that sections of the U.S. military are taking Japan's UFO sightings seriously. The Pentagon's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which is dedicated to investigating and reporting on unusual aerial phenomena, hit the headlines in September 2023 when it opened a new website for service members (and eventually the public) to submit UFO sightings. The site also contains videos of UFO sightings, some of which were debunked. Its work is similar to that of the International UFO Lab, but the AARO also collates data concerning the frequency of UFO sightings. 

In an April congressional hearing, the AARO revealed a heat map detailing the frequency of sightings from across the world. It revealed that in the U.S., UFO sightings are concentrated in the coastal states, which is not a surprise considering they are so populous. The map also that Japan is another world hot spot, as is the Middle East.

[Featured image by Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled]

Are geopolitical tensions behind the sightings?

In the years following the notorious Roswell incident, skeptics have sought to make sense of the supposed wreckage of a flying saucer by noting its proximity to a secretive military base, and some believe it is U.S. espionage equipment developed during the Cold War. Similarly, sightings in Japan have also come under scrutiny from those who believe that a more earthbound explanation is possible.

In 2020, reports emerged in Japan that a large, circular, white object had been spotted flying in the skies over Fukushima. A helicopter was sent to ascertain what it was, but the object disappeared without being identified. However, the incident resurfaced in 2023 when the U.S. shot down what was believed to be a Chinese spy balloon over American airspace. The incident caused a diplomatic ruckus and raised the possibility that similar equipment may be the cause of some of Japan's purported UFO sightings from 2020 onward.

Meanwhile, Dazed Digital has suggested that the U.S. Department of Defense may have a vested interest in spreading material suggesting the existence of UFOs as a smokescreen for their own aerial operations in regions such as the Middle East. 

[Featured image by Jeanne via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled]