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    UFO

    A few years ago, Claire Berlinski wrote the following about the intelligence failures that led up to 9/11:

    Baer reports that high-ranking CIA officials privately tell reporters that “when the dust finally clears, Americans will see that September 11 was a triumph for the intelligence community, not a failure.”

    It is a challenge to imagine what the words “intelligence failure” might mean, if not an unexpected attack on American soil that leaves more than three thousand civilians dead. Perhaps these officials are keeping the term in reserve for an invasion by extraterrestrials.

    Perhaps it was my lit. major’s overactive imagination, but I took that as exaggeration for effect. I was wrong, though, it seems. One of the big stories in Japan yesterday–I still can’t quite believe I’m actually typing this–was an exchange over whether Japan’s security measures against illegal aliens includes the type that menaces Sigourney Weaver:

    With Cabinet ministers debating all manner of security measures for unwanted visitors, be they terrorists or ballistic missiles, there was something that no one had apparently taken into consideration: Unidentified flying objects.

    On Tuesday, the Cabinet made clear what it knows.

    In an official written inquiry, Ryuji Yamane, an Upper House member from opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), had requested an explanation of the government’s stand on UFOs.

    In response, the Cabinet endorsed a statement saying there had been no confirmed existence of UFOs from outer space.

    Yamane noted that there have been numerous reports of UFO sightings and asked how the government goes about collecting information and studying UFOs, how it plans to deal with one landing in Japan, and whether Tokyo exchanges information on this issue with other nations.

    The government’s reply was that since it had not confirmed the existence of UFOs, it has not collected information on them, nor studied them.

    Yamane’s blogs, listed on his profile page, don’t yet contain any mention of his important efforts to plug the chinks in national security. Chief Cabinet Minister Nobutaka Machimura was moved to announce at a press conference, “個人的には絶対いると思う。 (kojintekini ha zettai iru to omou: ‘personally, I think [extraterrestrials] absolutely exist’)” Glad to see members of the cabinet have a functioning sense of wonder.

    However, if it’s real-life threats we’re worried about, the more gladdening news is probably that of the success of a test of one element of Japan’s anti-missile defense system in Hawaii:

    The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis destroyer Kongo succeeded in intercepting a mock ballistic missile warhead with an SM-3 missile as part of missile defense system test carried out at sea near Hawaii, the MSDF announced Monday.

    The success of the test–the first conducted by the MSDF–means Japan will be able to counter the threat of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as the Rodong and Taepodong-1, analysts said.

    Compared to a mock target based on a Scud-type missile, whose warhead and rocket engine do not separate, the target used in Monday’s experiment flies much faster at about Mach 10 and is therefore more difficult to intercept.

    The DPRK likes to test missiles every now and then, just to be neighborly. The import of this test will not be lost on Pyongyang.

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