New drone regulations snare 37 violators in first year

Kyodo, JIJI

A total of 37 people are suspected of violating the national drone flight rules in the year since the revised Civil Aeronautics Law took effect in late 2015, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Of the 36 cases in which police had taken action by the end of last year, most involved unmanned flights over prohibited areas, with the rest concerning breaches of regulations on appropriate drone use.

The law was revised to regulate unmanned flights after a small drone carrying radioactive material was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo in April 2015. The law allows police officers to destroy drones, if necessary.

The revision was first applied in Shikoku in January 2016 against a male photographer who flew a drone over a crowded residential area in Takamatsu without authorization.

Many other cases involved unapproved drone flights at tourists spots, including Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, and at night.

In the meantime, a separate NPA report said cases of animal abuse reached a record 62 last year, with suspects setting a new record of 66, the highest since the NPA began tracking such data in 2010.

Dogs were targeted in 18 cases and cats in 36 cases.

In one case, Tokushima police arrested a man in March last year on suspicion of breaking the animal welfare law by killing a rabbit and a ferret.

Police also tallied 62 people in 32 cases of alleged food safety violations, including the sale of beef cutlets that major curry chain Ichibanya Co. had intended for disposal. The figure has remained almost flat since 2011.

Another report by the NPA said the number of suspected money laundering cases reported by banks and other domestic institutions in 2016 rose 0.4 percent from the previous year to a record 401,091.

The uptick was apparently caused by extra efforts to combat money laundering, including new systems to detect illegal transactions and extra staffing, an NPA official said.

Formal police action was taken in 1,091 cases, nearly unchanged from 2015, the NPA said.

Of all cases handled by the police, 85 percent were linked to fraud, such as through the illegal acquisition of bankbooks. Also included were 41 cases linked to drugs and five linked to illegal gambling.