The government on Tuesday approved a bill to revise the drone regulation law to prohibit the flying of drones over U.S. military bases and Self-Defense Forces’ facilities as part of its measures to prevent terrorist attacks using drones.
The government plans to submit the bill to the current Diet session, but news organizations are protesting the move on the grounds it could potentially disrupt newsgathering.
Under the bill, the government would also ban drones from flying over venues for this year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
During those sporting events, only drones controlled by the media providing coverage would be allowed to fly over the venues.
Under the existing law, Japan already prohibits drone flights over key facilities such as the Prime Minister’s Office and the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
The bill on the law revision stipulates a drone flight ban over and within a 300-meter radius of U.S. military and SDF facilities as designated by the defense minister.
Police officers and SDF personnel will be allowed to destroy drones operating in restricted zones without permission. Violators face imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to ¥500,000.
Last month, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association — funded and operated by daily newspapers, news agencies and broadcasters — submitted a written statement to the government arguing the revised law could “substantially restrict news coverage activities and infringe on the people’s right to know.”