A mysterious metal sphere has washed up on a beach in Japan, leaving locals and Japanese authorities clueless as to its origin or purpose.
The orb, measuring roughly 5 feet in diameter, washed up on Enshu beach in the Pacific coastal city of Hamamatsu, prompting a flurry of theories about what it might be.
Japanese authorities quickly deployed bomb disposal squads to the shoreline yesterday amid initial fears it could be a sea mine, erecting a 600ft perimeter around the scene and preventing public access.
But an X-ray of the object revealed its rusted metal shell was merely a casing, its insides hollowed out.
There were also no indications it was a surveillance or espionage device deployed by nearby foes China and North Korea.
A mysterious metal sphere has washed up on a beach in Japan, leaving locals and Japanese authorities clueless as to its origin or purpose
Japanese authorities quickly deployed bomb disposal squads to the shoreline yesterday amid initial fears it could be a sea mine
Panic over, more mundane theories began perpetuating, chief among which suggested the sphere was a simply mooring buoy – characterised by a raised handle that could be used to hook a rope – that had become detached and drifted away.
But this theory also has its problems – such large metallic buoys typically contain more components and materials inside the outer casing to aid buoyancy.
The shell appears to be coloured with a faint yellow hue, with patches of brown likely caused by rust.
Investigators at the scene took several photographs of the sphere and said they had sent the images to the coast guard and the armed forces for further inspection and examination.
Locals interviewed by Japanese broadcaster NHK said they’d also inspected the object and had no idea what it was.
‘I tried to push it, but it wouldn’t budge,’ one man told NHK.
Despite investigators’ insistence the orb was not of Chinese origin, there were still concerns about the provenance of the object amid recent tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
Following the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon by the United States, Japanese authorities last week said it planned to clarify military engagement rules to allow its jet fighters to shoot down unmanned aircraft that violate its airspace.
The shell appears to be coloured with a faint yellow hue, with patches of brown likely caused by rust. Japanese authorities are still yet to determine what the object is
The orb, measuring roughly 5 feet in diameter, washed up on Enshu beach in the Pacific coastal city of Hamamatsu
The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023
And today, at the Asian powers’ first formal security talks in four years, Tokyo took aim at Beijing’s military ties to Russia and its suspected use of spy balloons in Japanese skies.
The talks, aimed at easing tensions between the world’s second- and third-largest economies, came as Tokyo worries that Beijing will resort to force to take control of Taiwan in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, sparking a conflict that could embroil Japan and disrupt global trade.
Japan in December said it would double defence spending over the next five years to 2 per cent of gross domestic product – a total of $320 billion – to deter China from resorting to military action.
Beijing, which increased defence spending by 7.1 per cent last year, spends more than four times as much as Japan on its forces.
‘While relations between Japan and China have a lot of possibilities, we are also facing many issues and concerns,’ Japanese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shigeo Yamada told his Chinese counterpart.
He pointed to their territorial dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, Beijing’s recent joint military drills with Moscow and the suspected Chinese surveillance balloons spotted over Japan at least three times since 2019.