Drone regulations in Japan
In this article, you will learn which drone laws apply in Japan.
The use of drones is allowed in Japan. In the past, permission was required, but this bureaucratic hurdle has been removed – at least in uninhabited areas. As long as you adhere to the following rules, you do not have to submit a special application.
Overview: Drone rules in Japan
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UA/Drone Counseling Service: [email protected].
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Additional rules for drone pilots in Japan
In Japan, you must not fly your drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are caught doing so, you can face a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine of up to 300,000 yen (around 2,500 euros).
Before each flight, you should check your copter. You must also fly it so that it does not pose any danger to other aircraft, people or objects.
In Japanese airspace, you may only steer your copter in daylight and within visual line of sight.
You must not use it to transport dangerous materials or to drop off objects.
As far as we know, there is no special insurance obligation. Because of the high cost of damage, we recommend you insure your drone anyway.
Safety distances and flight bans in Japan
There are three types of airspace that require permission in Japan:
- the airspace around airports
- the airspace over 150 meters altitude
- the airspace over densely populated areas
You can see exactly where the airports and densely populated areas are on this map. So far it is only available in Japanese, but it is self-explanatory. The areas that are considered densely populated are red and the airspace around airports is green.
If you want to fly in one of these airspaces, you have to apply for a permit from the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japanese at least 10 working days in advance. This document explains the necessary steps. Apparently there is also an online portal for this. At the moment everything seems to be only available in Japanese. If you have any questions, you can contact the UA / Drone Counseling Service via email: [email protected].
Drones must always keep a distance of 30 meters from bystanders, vehicles and buildings.
Operating drones over gatherings and events without permission is prohibited in Japan. Flights over streets, in the public parks of Tokyo and Osaka as well as over the emperor’s palace, other government buildings, nuclear and military facilities are not permitted. A distance of at least 300 meters should be maintained. Flight bans will also be imposed during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. You can find a list of the prohibited zones here.
If you want to fly outside of these rules, e.g. film an event or fly at night, you need a permit and you should contact the local aviation authority.
The DJI Mavic Mini in Japan
Maybe you have read somewhere that you can fly the DJI Mavic Mini anywhere in Japan without a permit. That propably doesn’t apply to the drone that you can buy in your country, because in Japan DJI has released an even lighter version that weighs only 199 grams. There is a lighter, but weaker battery installed. The reason for this is that the Japanese Aeronautical Act only applies to drones from 200 grams. This means that drones weighing less than 200 grams can fly higher than 150 meters.
Good to know
If you ignore the above rules and get caught, you may face a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Additional penalties apply to drone flights involving alcohol or drugs.
There are special requirements for radio technology in Japan. It must have a Technical Conformity Mark. If your drone is self-made or differs in any way from conventional devices, you should visit this site.
To the best of our knowledge, there is no distinction between drone flights for recreational and commercial purposes in Japan.
In the past, an activist has landed a drone with radioactive materials on the prime minister’s roof as a protest against Fukushima politics. Because of this occurrence, you should be particularly careful when flying near government buildings and avoid doing a flight or two to avoid unnecessary trouble.
We have researched the listed drone regulations for Japan to the best of our knowledge. We can not guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, please contact the competent aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in Japan!