Drone Laws in Japan

March 15, 2024

From modern professional filming and effective help in rescue missions, flying drones are also an exciting hobby such as drone racing, to take fantastic videos and photos privately. However, to fly their drone in Japan, there are some important regulations that should be complied. The most important rules in Japan are set by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).

The minimum weight should be 100 grams and no longer 200 grams as it was before, and any drone weighing 100 grams or more will have to be registered in Japan.

The rules apply to all aircraft that fall within the classification of UAV which the term means "UAV/drone" means any aircraft, rotorcraft, glider or airship that cannot accommodate a person on board and is remotely or automatically controlled. It excludes those that are lighter than 100 grams. For this purpose, the weight of a UAV/drone includes the battery.

The nationwide rules:

• Flying in regions with dense population is strictly prohibited without formal permission. This includes major cities like everything above Tokyo.

• Flying in the surrounding areas of airports, political buildings, nuclear power plants, military bases is allowed only with a special permit.

• You should not fly a drone over public events without a special permit.

• Without permission, a drone may not exceed the flight altitude of 150 meters.

• Permission is also required to fly the drone closer than 30 meters to uninvolved persons, buildings or other objects.

• It is not allowed to transport dangerous substances with his drone or even drop objects. Official permission is also required for such operations.

• When flying a drone, direct visual contact must always be maintained. If you want to launch a FPV (First Person View) drone, it is mandatory that a second person acts as an observer who maintains direct visual contact and keeps an eye on the surroundings. If you want to fly your drone without direct visual contact, you also need a special permit.

• You should only fly the drone during daylight hours, with a special permit for night flight.

• It is strictly prohibited to fly your drone intoxicated (alcohol or strong medication etc.).

• Those who disregard these rules can be fined up to 500,000 yen or can even be imprisoned.

All-important measures such as the knowledge of the weather conditions, inspecting the drone itself for visible damage, and updating the software to the latest version should be taken care of.

All drones must be registered - As of June 20th,2022, all drones, whether used commercially or for private use, must either be registered with the MLIT or equipped with a remote ID via a software update.

A certificate of Drone insurance and flight license is mandatory.

However by the end of Dec, 2022, The Japanese government has eased regulations to allow "level-4" drones flights in which the pilot operates an unmanned aerial vehicle over residential areas without a direct line of sight.

Such flights are expected to take place first with the transport of goods to remote islands during a disaster relief. It might however, take few years before they can be used to deliver goods around town.

This Level 4 license, refers to automated drone flights over residential and urban areas where the operator cannot see the vehicle. These will now be permitted, so long as the operator obtains permission from the central government for each flight. They could be used to deliver packages from warehouses to private residences or elsewhere.

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