Lower House OKs bill to ban drone flights over crowded areas

Kyodo

The Lower House unanimously approved a bill on Thursday to ban drones from flying over crowded residential areas and airports, as well as the use of unmanned aircraft at night without the government’s permission.

The bill to revise the Civil Aeronautics Law is aimed at requiring operators to maintain a certain distance from people while operating a drone, ensuring operators always check where their drone is flying and prohibiting them from delivering explosive devices or other items that could do harm to people or things.

Operators will also be banned from flying drones in areas where large crowds are present, such as festivals and exhibitions, according to the bill.

The government is seeking to pass the bill, which will impose up to ¥500,000 ($4,170) in fines, during the current Diet session through Sept. 27, after getting approval in the Upper House.

The bill is the second round of legislative changes to regulate the use of drones, following another measure that passed the Lower House on July 9 banning the devices from being flown over designated facilities that are deemed important, such as the prime minister’s office, the Diet building, the Imperial Palace, and nearby areas.

The government decided to pass the measures after a drone with a small amount of radioactive material was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office in April.

The man who operated the drone was arrested on suspicion of forcible obstruction of business and interfering with the operations of the prime minister’s office.