Over the last several days, a number of websites have reported that Japan's Nippon Television was covering a story of how a UFO crashed off the coast of Okinawa and that officials had released a photograph of the UFO.

This is either an amazing story or yet another example of how stories of this type often get overblown. In fact, this comes under the category of "You've got to be kidding me."

As reported by inothernewz.com, and picked up by other media sources, the UFO was seen by several news crews, police and emergency vehicles as it sunk in the water near the islands south of Japan on Dec. 4.

That's a lot of potential eyewitnesses. The photo, above, was reportedly released by the Japanese navy. A navy spokesman, Yoshido Hari, has been quoted saying, "We wanted to release this photo to the world and confirm the reports. This picture will give credence to what some of our citizens living in Okinawa witnessed ... We clearly still have many days of salvaging ahead of us, but we will take our time and bring the aircraft up in one piece. We must preserve the object as much as possible."

That's quite a mouthful, if it's true. But this story falls apart on several levels, as ghosttheory.com also points out.

First, the UFO that reportedly crashed off Okinawa is suspiciously identical to a Google Earth image, below, that was one of many shown by HuffPost months ago to be nothing more than lens flares.

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Next, while several websites have reported that Nippon TV said a UFO went down off the coast of Okinawa, a simple search of the Nippon TV site -- using the word "UFO" -- shows no results of any recent news item about a UFO.

Next, a simple Google search of "pink ufos" brings up numerous examples -- including the so-called Okinawa UFO -- of camera lens artifacts that aren't even solid objects.

If the Japanese navy had, in fact, released an official photo of a UFO that crashed into the sea near Okinawa, where exactly is that photo? Because the image that's shown up in most stories about the "event" is clearly not the object in question.

It's not known how or where this story even began, but the UFO field is already mired in enough bad stories with bad images and bad videos. It doesn't need any more to drag the credibility of the subject further down, much to the delight of debunkers everywhere.

Check out more pink lens flares that inhabit Google Maps

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  • Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 2013

    This is a composite image of how three alleged UFOs maneuvered about in the sky over Melbourne, Australia, in early February, 2013. The final verdict isn't in yet on whether they're birds, aircraft, balloons, bugs or something truly unidentified.

  • Lanterns

    These candle-lit Chinese lanterns can rise high into the sky and are often mistaken for UFOs.

  • Exploding Weather Balloons, Not UFOs

    On Dec. 20, 2012, a bright, circular object (pictured at the top of this composite image) was videotaped exploding in the skies above Sacramento, Calif. It wasn't immediately identified, resulting in speculation that it was either an alien spacecraft, military top secret weapon, runaway planet, North Korean satellite, among others. Within a short period of time, it became apparent that this was a weather balloon. The bottom part of this image shows such a balloon as it ascended over Tampa Bay, Fla., on July 2, 2012, and exploded in an identical manner as the Sacramento object, probably much to the dismay of all true ET believers out there.

  • Boomerang UFO composite images -- 10-5-12

    This is a composite of images shot by two eyewitnesses of a boomerang-shaped UFO they reported seeing over their Burbank, Calif., home on Oct. 5, 2012. Mutual UFO Network photo/video analyst Marc Dantonio concluded the object was likely "a balloon, floating on the wind that has collapsed in half."

  • Changing UFO Pattern -- Warren, Mich. 1-10-13

    This four-image series of lights in the sky was recorded over Warren, Mich., on Jan. 10, 2013. The lights were seen changing into several patterns. The most logical explanation for these types of UFOs is a series of balloons or lanterns.

  • UFOs Over Earth

    This composite image shows four different times that alleged UFO were photographed above Earth by either space shuttles or the International Space Station. The big question is whether or not they are truly unidentified objects or if they are more likely reflections from spacecraft windows, meteors or fast-moving spacecraft-generated debris.

  • Pink UFOs Or Lens Flares?

    What appear to be pink-red UFOs are actually lens flares from the Google Earth street view camera as it snapped images in Texas (left) and New Mexico (right).

  • Lens flares Arizona

    These two flying saucer-shaped, pink-colored lens flares were created by the Google Maps camera as it drove through locations in Sedona, Ariz. (left) and Flagstaff, Ariz. (right). The images were snapped in April 2009. Submitted to HuffPost by trenna.

  • Lens flare Whiteriver, Ariz.

    This skybound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in June 2008 over Whiteriver, Ariz. Submitted to Huffington Post by Cheryl Weeks.

  • Lens flare Gulfport, Miss.

    This very Earthbound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in November 2007 at Gulfport, Miss. Submitted to Huffington Post by Jenni Parker.

  • Lens flare Eureka Springs, Ark.

    This seemingly grounded lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in January 2008 at Eureka Springs, Ark. Submitted to Huffington Post by SE.

  • Lens flare Escanaba, Mich.

    This lens flare appears to be following a car. The Google Maps image was created in October 2008 at Escanaba, Mich. Submitted to Huffington Post by Mary Robinson.

  • Cincinnati Skydivers NOT UFOs Sept. 28, 2012

    On the night of Sept. 28, 2012, a group of strange-looking lights appeared in the sky near Cincinnati, Ohio. First there was one, then, two, then three lights, slowly descending. It turns out, however, that these lights were originating from a group of skydivers performing a pyrotechnics jump at the La Salle High School homecoming event.

  • Weather Phenomenon

    Some UFO sightings may be due to a natural phenomenon known as sprites, like this one shown from 2006. "Lightning from [a] thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said geophysicist Colin Price.

  • Clouds

    Clouds: Saucer-shaped or "lenticular" clouds that form at high altitudes have been confused with UFOs.

  • Blimps or Advertising Balloons

    Blimps or advertising balloons: These can look like flying saucers from some angles, especially at night.

  • Sunken Ship in the Baltic Sea

    On June 19th the Swedish-based diving company Ocean Explorer discovered something they've never quite seen before. They were exploring in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland looking for sunken treasures when a very unusual image suddenly appeared on the sonar. A 197 feet diameter cylinder shaped object was discovered at the depth of approximately 275 feet which resembles the Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars.

  • Baltic Sea UFO 1

    An image released on June 15, 2012, shows a close-up view of the unidentified object sitting on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

  • Baltic Sea UFO 2

    Close-up of rock bed that forms the Baltic Sea UFO, which still mystifies researchers.

  • Baltic Sea UFO 3

    One of several odd stone circle formations, sitting on top of the unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

  • Antarctic UFO -- Aug. 10, 2012

    A circular UFO hovers above the Neumayer-Station III research facility in Antarctica on Aug. 10, 2012. Theories ranging from a simple weather balloon to a more elaborate ship from another planet have run the Internet gamut. The next slide shows a closeup of the object.

  • Antarctic UFO Closeup -- Aug. 10, 2012

    This is a closeup of the UFO from the previous slide. No official explanation has been offered about the object.

  • Manufactured UFO -- 2011

    Pictured is a quad copter -- a deliberately manufactured UFO created by special effects wizard Marc Dantonio for a National Geographic special, "The Truth Behind: UFOs," which aired in December 2011. On the left is what the small device looks like resting on the ground, measuring 4 feet in circumference. At right, is how it appeared behind a tree in the night sky.

  • Police Dashboard Camera In Texas

    In February of 2012, this fireball was captured by a Texas police chief's A dashboard camera. F.A.A. say this was probably a meteor, falling to Earth. .

  • Meteors

    Meteors: Space debris can create a spectacular light show when it burns through the Earth's atmosphere, and sometimes reported as UFOs.

  • Civilian or Military Aircraft

    Civilian or military aircraft: Planes can look mysterious at night or in certain light conditions, thus confusing an observer.

Check out this group of unexplained lights over Japan, reportedly in November of 2012