According to a report by Japanese news outlet The Mainichi, the IUL was opened on the grounds of the UFO Interactive Hall in the prefecture. It also named Takeharu Mikami, editor-in-chief of the monthly occult magazine Mu, as the facility's director.
Mikami said: "Until now, even if UFOs were discovered, the information was shared only on an individual level. I hope the research lab will serve as a base receiving information and lead to new discoveries. I'd like to get to the bottom of their identity."
The new lab was opened at what was formerly the town of Iino, located northwest of Okuma town where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant once stood. Fukushima City, the prefecture's eponymous capital, eventually incorporated Iino into its territory in 2008.
Dubbed the "hometown of UFOs," Iino became host to a number of UFO sightings – including one "light-emitting cone-shaped object" spotted near the area's Mount Senganmori. This sighting, which happened in the 1970s, subsequently became known as the Mount Senganmori incident. Iino officials then started to promote the region's link to the space objects.
As part of these efforts, the UFO Interactive Hall was built in 1992 as a central facility. The hall boasted of a collection of about 3,000 materials related to UFOS, donated by the late researcher Kinichi Arai. It frequently had a yearly visitor count of around 30,000 people coming from the prefecture and other areas.
The IUL currently focuses on collecting, analyzing and disclosing witness information concerning UFO sightings worldwide. It is also investigating and researching on the Mount Senganmori incident that put Iino on the map. Aside from these, the IUL is also making attempts to encounter other UFOs. It is looking for members who will conduct internet-based research, with applications continuing through the end of December 2021. (Related: Massive temple spotted on Mars 'identical' to an ancient Japanese tomb.)
The IUL's opening came almost a year after the Japanese Ministry of Defense said it would draw up a plan for pilots to report UFOs. A May 2020 Nippon.com report said the ministry considered protocols on how Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) ought to respond to, record and report encounters with the objects.
Former Defense Minister Taro Kono said that time that while JASDF pilots have never encountered UFOs before, the proposed steps will cover the possibility. Meanwhile, the ministry said JASDF fighter jets are scrambled to monitor and identify unknown aircraft. It continued that the jets come from seven bases spread out from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.
While the JASDF pilots have not encountered UFOs, U.S. Air Force (USAF) aviators have done so multiple times – and even recorded 11 incidents of near-misses with the objects. A report by the U.S. Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) and the U.S. Department of Defense's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force elaborated on these incidents. The report was released on June 25 – a day after the IUL opened – and submitted to the U.S. Congress.
Based on the report, there were 11 recorded instances of near-misses from the 144 rereports of UFO sightings the U.S. government received. It noted that pilots are required to report concerns such as UFOs whenever they encounter safety hazards. "Depending on the location, volume and behavior of hazards during incursions on ranges, pilots may cease their tests and/or training and land their aircraft," the report continued.
The ODNI report said UFOs "pose a hazard to safety of flight." It added that the objects "could post a broader danger" if in case they happened to be surveillance tools by a foreign government or a breakthrough technology by a potential enemy. While the report said there is a lack of data to conclude either of the two possibilities, it reiterated that monitoring efforts are currently underway – given that some UFOs were spotted near military facilities. (Related: Former US military officer claims UFOs shut down nuclear missiles.)
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