• Kyodo

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Police said Thursday they recorded 68 illegal drone flight incidents in 2017, almost double the previous year’s 36, at a time when delivery services and other businesses are looking to utilize unmanned aircraft.

Authorities took action against 77 people, up from 37 the year before, the National Police Agency said, indicating a need to improve public awareness of regulations.

“It seems (the regulations) are not widely known,” an NPA official said, suggesting the need to improve public awareness.

The aviation law bans drone flights in airspace around airports and above densely populated areas. Drones are restricted to flying in daylight hours and need to be monitored at all times.

Pilots need to obtain permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for night flights or if they are flying a drone over a densely populated area.

Among the cases that came to the attention of police, 43 involved flights in prohibited areas while 33 were related to other violations. Eight cases involved drones being flown in restricted areas while also breaking one or more other regulations.

Some of the accused were foreigners who flew drones over popular tourist destinations such as Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Hyogo Prefecture.