New regulations on the flights of drones and other unmanned aircraft will take effect on Thursday, despite concerns over the impact on hobbyists and fears that restrictions may hamper innovation in the emerging sector.

Changes to the Civil Aeronautics Law, passed by the Diet in September, will ban flights of drones weighing 200 grams or more in crowded residential areas, at altitudes 150 meters or more above the ground, and near airports. The transport ministry can grant operators exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The designation "crowded residential areas" covers large swaths of areas in major cities, including all of Tokyo's 23 wards. This means operators will be severely restricted from flying drones and even toy aircraft in such areas.