The government and the ruling coalition are moving quickly to regulate drones following the discovery of a small remote-controlled aerial vehicle on the roof of the prime minister's office in late April. Some regulation is long overdue, given that there has been little in the way of legal control over their operation while their use has been rapidly expanding in the private, business and public spheres. But these regulatory moves need to be closely watched to make sure they don't go too far and stifle the use of drones to fill unique needs.
A bill proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito alliance that cleared the Lower House earlier this month would prohibit the flying of drones above and around the premises of key facilities, including the prime minister's office, the Diet, the Imperial Palace and nuclear power plants.
A revision of the Aviation Law, submitted separately to the Diet by the government, would ban drones from areas around airports and above densely populated residential areas without government permission. It would also prohibit the operation of drones during nighttime hours and at events that attract large numbers of people, such as festivals and exhibitions, and ban their use for transporting explosives. Violators would face a fine of up to ¥500,000.