Drone flyer surveilled American Embassy housing facility, buzzed Sendai nuclear plant: blog


A man arrested for landing a drone with radioactive sand on top of the prime minister’s office might have targeted a U.S. diplomatic housing facility in Tokyo for the stunt and tried to film a nuclear power plant in Kagoshima as well, sources close to the matter said Monday.

Yasuo Yamamoto, 40, who was arrested Saturday on suspicion of obstructing duties at the prime minister’s office by landing a drone with a slightly radioactive payload on top of it, has said he did it to protest Japan’s use of nuclear power, police said, adding they are investigating his plans for other attempted fights.

According to a blog posts written by Yamamoto, a resident of Obama, Fukui Prefecture, which hosts several nuclear power plants, he used a drone to take close look at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture last October.

He attempted to take aerial footage of the complex but his drone failed to reach a reactor building, one blog post says.

In another post last November, Yamamoto pondered whether Washington was meddling with Japanese nuclear power policy, writing, “Is the United States an enemy, too?” and “It’s unclear whether the United States is applying pressure to resume operations of nuclear power plants now.”

He also detailed an apparent reconnaissance visit to the American Embassy housing compound, a gated facility in Roppongi, writing, “I should check out a takeoff point so that I can release it here instead of at the prime minister’s office, depending on the situation.”

A small four-rotor drone carrying a container of sand with trace amounts of cesium was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office on Wednesday, sparking concerns that terrorist attacks could be made via the small, unmanned aircraft.

Yamamoto, who turned himself in to Fukui police on Friday, said he planted the drone on the prime minister’s office on April 9, meaning it sat on the roof unnoticed for nearly two weeks.

Police think he began preparing for the flight last fall and initially attempted to do it on Dec. 24, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his new Cabinet, to apparently protest the government’s push to restart nuclear power plants idled in the wake of the triple core meltdown in Fukushima in 2011.

“The launch of the new Cabinet is set for Dec. 24” Yamamoto blogged in November. “I should carry it out this day.”

Yamamoto said he actually tried to fly a drone to a park near Abe’s office on Dec. 24 but gave up because it was too stressful.

He also appeared to be wrestling with his conscience.

“Should I do that again?” he wrote before turning himself in, followed by “No . . . I wouldn’t.”

All 48 of Japan’s commercial reactors remain offline ever since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis shattered Japan’s nuclear safety myth. Kyushu Electric plans to restart one of the two reactors at the Sendai plant in July.