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An AFP article last week quoted the “science minister” as saying he hopes aliens exist. In the delightful decades I’ve spent in Japan, of the wonderfully wacky beliefs that people discuss — from blood-type personalities to unlucky calendar days to ghosts haunting mansions — the most unbelievable is belief in UFOs.

I remember reading in the pages of The Japan Times somewhere near the end of the previous millennium that the British Royal Air Force was closing down its Unidentified Flying Object report center. Henceforth, the RAF would no longer take reports of UFOs from the public: not a military threat thank you very much, not one pound more spent on such nonsense.

The astronomer Carl Sagan said it was impossible for any living organism to live long enough to traverse the vast distances of the cosmos in any lifetime to get here. He didn’t say there wasn’t life out there; he said, as Don Henley sang concerning extraterrestrials and other aliens: “They’re not here, they’re not coming!”

mike thompson

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