SENDAI -- Officials in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Miyagi have concluded that the owner and purpose of a white balloon-like object that was seen drifting mysteriously in the skies above the prefecture on June 17 cannot be determined.
The prefecture's crisis response division confirmed that the object was equipped with a cross part hanging beneath it as well as two propellers. However, it was drifting at an altitude of at least 3,000 meters, and it was not possible for authorities to approach it by helicopter.
Officials made inquiries about the unidentified flying object with prefectural police, the Ground Self-Defense Force, the Sendai Regional Headquarters of the Japan Meteorological Agency in Miyagi Prefecture, and the Sendai airport office, but were unable to obtain any leads.
The prefectural government received a report about the object from the Sendai Municipal Government at 8:20 a.m. on June 17. It was further sighted in the skies above the towns of Zao and Murata in the south of Miyagi Prefecture, as well as above the city of Natori. When the airborne interloper moved away from the prefecture with no confirmation of any falling objects, prefectural officials ended their response at around 5 p.m.
In a regularly scheduled news conference on June 29, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai commented, "It was extremely creepy. It's a problem that cannot be overlooked in terms of our sense of crisis management." He said that if a similar object were seen in the future, he would like to ask the central government to respond.
(Japanese original by Issei Takizawa, Sendai Bureau)