• Kyodo

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The transport ministry says it plans to ban pilots who get involved in certain types of crimes from flying in Japan for two years.

The step, which comes after the captain of a business jet was found to have had a hand in a gold-smuggling case last year, is targeted at pilots of small private jets. The government is increasingly opening airports for such flights to increase Japan’s business competitiveness.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry says it will ban the use of airports by pilots who have received prison sentences related to the smuggling of drugs, large amounts of undeclared cash or precious metals.

The ban will last for two years starting from the end of a prison sentence or the end of a suspended prison sentence’s suspension period.

Japan’s 26 state-run airports, including Tokyo’s Haneda, the busiest, are expected to revise their usage rules in line with the decision.

The government plans to request the same measures at the 65 airports managed by cities, prefectures or other governments and five run by airport operators, including Narita in Chiba Prefecture, the nation’s largest international gateway.

Pilots cannot operate in Japan without obtaining certifications of their skills and health under the Civil Aeronautics Law.

The law allows for revocation of the skill certification if a pilot is found guilty of putting air safety at risk, such as by engaging in reckless piloting or ignoring an air controller’s instructions. It does not, however, cover statutory crimes by pilots that involve airport facilities.

In June, Tokyo police arrested pilot Toshihiko Sasae and some gangsters on suspicion of attempting to smuggle about 110 kg (240 pounds) of gold on a private jet that landed at Naha airport in Okinawa from Macao last December. The gold was found by customs authorities at the airport.

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