National / Crime & Legal

Teen arrested over alleged plan to fly drone over shrine festival in Tokyo


A 15-year-old boy known to police for flying drones in crowded places was arrested Thursday on suspicion of planning to fly one of the devices at a Tokyo festival.

The boy, who lives in Yokohama, is suspected of posting a video message online last week in which he implied he might fly a drone at the Sanja Matsuri festival at Asakusa Shrine, according to police.

“Tomorrow it seems there is a festival in Asakusa. I will go. No signs they’re banning movie shooting,” the police quoted the boy as saying in the video. The festival will be held on Friday and Saturday.

The boy’s post prompted the festival organizer to ban the flying of drones nearby.

The boy has denied the accusation, saying “I didn’t say I would fly a drone at all,” according to the police. His name is being withheld as he is a minor.

The boy flew a drone over Zenkoji Temple in the city of Nagano on May 9, and the device dropped onto a crowded area during a ceremony at the temple, but no one was injured.

He later received a verbal warning from the police while attempting to fly a drone near the Diet Building in central Tokyo, and streamed his interaction with police officers live on the Internet.

The boy identifies himself as “Noeru” and describes himself on his Twitter account as a movie distributor.

“He could cause a serious incident if this goes on. It is necessary to stop him before that,” said a senior official at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

In a separate case, a man from Fukui Prefecture has been indicted on a charge of obstructing work at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo after flying a drone onto its roof last month, prompting police to tighten security and the government to seek to regulate drone flights.