National / Crime & Legal

Government eyes private body to identify drone operators

Kyodo

The Abe administration is considering having a private entity assume practical work for regulating drone flights, such as identifying their operators, after one carrying a small amount of radioactive cesium was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office last month, government sources said Monday.

While the administration and ruling parties are considering legislation to ban flights above important facilities, including the Diet and central government offices, the idea that drone buyers and users would be more efficiently managed by a private association has gained traction, the sources said.

Under the plan being floated, the identification of buyers would be obligatory, with such an entity as the Japan Radio Control Safety Association designated to take on the task, according to the sources.

Government agencies centering on the transport and communications ministries that oversee air transport and radio waves will hold talks to work out whether the law needs to be revised.

They are expected to also discuss a licensing system for operators of high-performance drones and mandatory insurance coverage in case of an accident, the sources said.

The radio control safety association, established in 1985 with the aim of controlling the correct operation of radio waves for remote-controlled model cars and aircraft, has its own licensing system with some 20,000 people registered, centering on radio control helicopter fans, an association official said.

With the number of drone owners increasing among those registered, the association is likely to play a significant role if the envisaged system takes form, the officials said, adding possible management methods include installing IC chips with the owner’s information on the drones.

The government is trying to regulate drone flights amid concerns about possible terrorist attacks using the unmanned aerial devices following the high-profile case in which a man has been arrested after admitting he flew the drone onto the roof of the prime minister’s office to protest nuclear policy.

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