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Now Illegal to Drink and Drone in Japan


Now Illegal to Drink and Drone in Japan

Now Illegal to Drink and Drone in Japan


As reported by the BBC, this week, Japan’s parliament has passed a law making it illegal to pilot a drone while intoxicated. “We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving,” a Japanese transport ministry official told the AFP news agency.

Anyone operating a drone in Japan does not need a licence but must abide by a series of regulations including:

  • staying below 150m
  • avoiding airports, crowded areas
  • only flying during daylight
  • keeping the drone in sight at all times
  • Those found to be intoxicated while flying a drone could also face a fine of up to 300,000 yen (£2,200) and /or up to a year in prison.
  • The law covers drones weighing more than 200g (7oz) and also puts limits on where drones can be flown.
  • Fines of up to 500,000 yen to be levied on pilots caught performing dangerous stunts with their drones like quickly plunging the craft towards crowds.
  • In addition to nuclear power plants and government buildings, Japan’s parliament buildings and the prime minister’s office- drones now can’t fly within 300 meters of Japanese military bases, U.S. military personnel, or other facilities connected to the country’s armed forces, without specific permission.

With the 2020 Olympics quickly approaching piloting drones anywhere near the stadiums and venues in Japan, even well ahead of the games, has been ruled illegal.

Anyone failing to abide by the established regulations could face a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

All these rules do sound strict however, Japan doesn’t require every drone operator to be licensed as long as pilots stick to daytime flights, keep their crafts below 150 meters, avoid crowds and airports, and never lose sight of their drones.

The rules could be a result of Japan seeing a rising amount of drone usage as well as related accidents. In 2017, an industrial-sized drone was deployed at a “robot festival” in Ogaki city in central Japan and was supposed to shower small children with sweets. But the device, operated by a qualified individual, injured six people after plunging 10m to the ground.

Japan has also had to confront issues with tourists flying drones in congested tourist areas like Kyoto. SO if you are thinking of packing a drone along on a vacation to Japan getting registered / or seeking permission is advisable.

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Cite this article as: Phillip Smith, "Now Illegal to Drink and Drone in Japan," in, June 15, 2019,

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