[RULES] FLYING A DRONE IN JAPAN – REGULATION AND LAWS

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In the year of 2016, more than 24 Million foreigners had visited Japan to eat some Sashimis (raw fish) and see enormous robots dance with Japanese girls in the basement of an office building.

Japan Tourism Agency under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) has announced in April that they are expecting more than 40 Million by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Whatever the objectives are for these people, Japan definitely offers variety of fun and excitement, as well as mysteries in every corner of town.
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If you are someone called a creator, who thrives to post that COOL footage of your adventures on YouTube or any other SNS platforms, flying drones is the thing to do to differentiate yourself from the other 700 million accounts, and to catch the attention of the bored audiences who are used to looking at copious amounts of selfie photos on their everyday feed.

As mentioned before, your trip to Japan has all the factors to boost that number of LIKES on your YouTube/instagram accounts, but not so fast, you don’t want to find yourself behind the bars from trying to gain your social presence.

Drone Incidents At Prime minister’s residence

After this genius guy decided to fly a drone full of radio-active sand over the Prime Minister’s residence, the Sh*t got real, and the Japanese government started its move on solidifying their drone regulations.

ACCORDING to the Civil Aeronautics Law stated on the website of MLIT (*3), the violation of such regulation will put you in the place to pay the fine of maximum JPY500,000 (Apprx. USD4,500). Clearly, this is an amount of money you do not want to expense when you are staying in your 30 dollar per night Airbnb place you found during your extensive search during work.

So here are the steps to fly your drones in Japan, without having anyone getting into your way of becoming the next Casey Neistat.

The Japanese government will let you go if your drone weighs less than 200 grams. If you have no problem with the quality with your tiny gadget of this sort, you can stop reading this and go do your thing.

Where can we fly drones safety in Japan?

Now, you want to know where you are flying the drone.
The guideline issued by MLIT divides the airspace into four;
a) 150 meters above ground – Flyable upon securing safety, and approval from MLIT.
b) Airspace near airports / heliports – Flyable upon securing safety, and approval from MLIT.
c) Airspace above Densely-Inhabited District – Flyable upon securing safety, and approval from MLIT.
d) Anywhere that does not fall into a) – c). – Flyable.
図1

The Densely-Inhabited District is based on the stats from the National Census held by the Japanese government. Specific areas can be seen on the jSTAT MAP which is bit of a complicated process, so just keep in mind that if you see people residing in the area, it is safe for you to assume that you will need an official approval.

DJI (Japan website) provides a map for safe flight map, Places in RED shows the Densely-Inhabited District, therefore if you are outside of that zone, you are good to go.

For obvious reasons, flying a drone in Tokyo is pretty much a NO-GO.

If you are an aggressive pilot and wanting to fly your drone in the RED area, you need to figure out a way to get the approval from MLIT.
You will need an assistance from your Japanese speaking friend, so look into this Link to see how it is done.

Fly safe, and wishing you that SNS fame.

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