Japan government eyes urban drone ban


Tokyo (AFP) – Japan plans to ban the public from flying drones above residential areas and at night, as it scrambles to legislate after a device was found on top of the prime minister’s office in April.

According to draft regulations the government revealed Tuesday, drone flying would be prohibited in Japan “except during daytime”.

Only operators who are deemed to have taken sufficient safety steps will be able to use drones near airports and in residential areas, the regulations say.

Anyone wishing to fly high-spec unmanned aircraft would be required to obtain a licence.

The use of drones has exploded in many parts of the world over the last couple of years, particularly amongst media and hobbyists.

Tokyo said it wanted to create an environment where “operators can use small-scale drones in a flexible manner” if they take certain safety measures, recognising the device’s usefulness in farming, as well as collecting information during natural disasters.

The government said it would like to submit legislation during the current session of parliament, which is expected to last until August.

The move comes after a Japanese man was arrested about a month ago for allegedly flying a small drone carrying traces of radioactivity onto the roof of the prime minister’s office.

It also comes amid growing alarm in some quarters about safety after drones have been flown over populated areas.

Last month, police arrested a 15-year-old boy for suggesting online that he might fly a drone over a crowded festival in Tokyo after giving him several warnings for flying and attempting to fly a device near tourist spots.

There have been no reported instances of anyone being killed or suffering serious injury from drones in Japan.

In contrast, an elderly man died after a 700-kilogramme (1,540-pound) kite plunged from the sky into a crowd at a festival earlier this week.

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