It was supposed to be a budgetary session, but it felt more like a close encounter of the third kind.
By Kyle Mullin
Like a black hole sucking the proceedings out of their familiar orbit, Antonio Inoki surprised his fellow lawmakers during a Diet assembly last Thursday by asking defense minister General Nakatani if Japanese warplanes had ever intercepted UFOs, or whether or not government studies had ever uncovered evidence of life beyond our earthly bounds.
As the extraterrestrial tangent continued, Nakatani responded by saying he had no knowledge of abductions, “Independence Day”-esque skirmishes between jets and intergalactic starships, or sightings of flying objects descending from the heavens. The Japan Times quoted the defense minister as saying: “They sometimes find birds or flying objects other than aircraft, but I don’t know of a case of finding an unidentified flying object believed to have come over from anywhere other than Earth.”
Surprisingly, this is not the first time that the Diet has been hijacked with such sci-fi proceedings. In 2007, the Associated Press quoted then–Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura as saying that he “definitely believes” in UFO’s, despite an official government statement that declared Japan’s airforce had “not confirmed sightings of unidentified flying objects believed to be from outer space.” Neither that article or the recent Japan Times piece cited why government officials are bothering to comment on flying saucers and little green moon men.
What shouldn’t have come as a shock, however, is Inoki’s willingness to broach this and other colorful topics. After all, conventionalism doesn’t appear to be part of the infamously red scarf clad, former wrestler-turned-politican’s repertoire. CNN notes that Inoki first nabbed international headlines in 1976 by going toe to toe with boxing champion Muhammad Ali for one of the world’s first multi-discipline fighting matches. A gripping in-depth profile in Grantland, meanwhile, details his forays into “sports diplomacy” [cf. Dennis Rodman] by making high profile visits to North Korea in 2013 and Iraq in 1990. That earlier visit was part of an effort to free Japanese hostages, but Inoki also used the trek as an opportunity to learn about Islamic practices. The Grantland author added that the then MP sported “tiny white shorts and a tight white T-shirt cheerfully jogging through Baghdad and waving to a guard manning a security gate before suiting up for meetings with Uday Hussein.”
During last week’s Diet session, Inoki said that he “did not know whether or not aliens existed, but he had once seen a mysterious flying object rocket into the air on the horizon and disappear.” If those interstellar travellers do exist, and mean us harm, we can at least take comfort in knowing that the unconventional politician can ward those ETs off with his infamous bitch-slapping skills. For proof, just do a search for アントニオ猪木ビンタ, or “Inoki bitch slap” in Japanese, and behold the statesman’s out-of-this-world smackdown capacity