Japan has passed a strict drone law that bans drones from flying over government buildings and important facilities. The law also allows law enforcement officers to destroy drones if necessary to keep them away from prohibited areas.
The legislation was proposed several months ago, after an incident in which a small drone carrying a tiny amount of radioactive material landed on the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in Tokyo. The drone operator in that incident, who intended the drone flight as a protest, has been prosecuted; but the event raised concerns in Japan over possible terrorist attacks. Parliament proposed several new laws as a result, including prohibiting recreational drone flight near important buildings and an almost total ban in large cities or crowded spaces. The new law adds the power granted to law enforcement to destroy drones found in violation of the law.
The law was passed quickly so that it could be enacted prior to a foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations, which will take place in Japan at the end of May.
Japan has been aggressive in creating regulation that will encourage the growth of the drone industry, after Prime Minister Abe called drone business part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and pledged to support it. Since that time, Japan has formed special de-regulation zones for testing drone technology, and is considering designating bandwidth for commercial drone use. However, concern over terrorism has caused lawmakers to enact strict regulations on recreational and hobby drones. Japan could offer a large market in hobby drones due to wide interest in recreational photography, and drone manufacturing giant DJI has begun to introduce its drones there in the hopes that the market will expand despite regulations.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.