Antonio Inoki
Retired professional wrestler Antonio Inoki was elected to Japan's House of Councillors in 2013. Reuters

A wrestler-turned-politician grilled the minister of defense about unidentified flying objects and a potential alien invasion. That’s not a synopsis for a situation-comedy episode, but actually what happened in Japan Thursday. The country’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani answered Antonio Inoki’s questions about aliens and UFOs during a Wednesday session of the National Diet, its bicameral legislature.

At a meeting of the budget committee in the Diet’s upper house, Inoki asked about aliens and fighter jets being scrambled after reports of UFOs in Japanese airspace, Agence France-Presse reported. “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,” Nakatani said in his reply.

Nakatani is not the only Japanese defense chief who has had to answer questions about UFOs. In 2007, Shigeru Ishiba had to respond to inquiries about defending Japan from space invaders, Bloomberg News reported at the time. Ishiba and Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura both indicated they believed in the existence of extraterrestrial UFOs. Machimura said aliens could be responsible for some unexplained phenomena found on Earth, and Ishiba said, “There are no grounds for us to deny there are unidentified flying objects and some life-form that controls them.”

Inoki is a retired professional wrestler -- think Hulk Hogan in terms of popularity, but bigger -- who founded New Japan Pro Wrestling and even fought Muhammad Ali in a mixed-martial-arts match in 1976. Inoki was elected to the House of Councillors, the upper house of the Diet, in 1989 and served for six years. During that tenure, he negotiated the release of Japanese hostages in Iraq with Saddam Hussein in 1990, the Washington Post reported decades later. He retired from the Diet in 1995, but announced his return to politics in 2013, when he again won election to the House of Councillors.

Getting slapped by Inoki is apparently a thing and a huge honor.