Drone Laws in Japan

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Japan

Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB)

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism

Japanese Regulations (Translated in English)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Japan

The Japanese agency responsible for drone safety, JCAB, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in Japan?

According to JCAB, drone use is allowed in Japan, subject to strict JCAB regulations. Read on for more details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Japan:

JCAB defines “UA/Drone” as an airplane, rotorcraft, glider, or airship which cannot accommodate any person on board and can be remotely or automatically piloted. (Excluding those lighter than 200g. The weight of a UA/Drone includes that of its battery.)

Prohibited Airspace for Flight

Any person who intends to operate a UA/Drone in the following airspaces is required to obtain permission from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

(A) Airspace around airports. (airspaces above approach surface, horizontal surface, transitional surface, extended approach surface, conical surface, and outer horizontal surface.)
* As of September 18, 2019, Airspace below approach surface, transitional surface, and above the airport premises is added to a no-fly zone at the following airports; New Chitose Airport, Narita International Airport, Tokyo International Airport, Chubu International Airport, Kansai International Airport, Osaka International Airport, Fukuoka Airport, Naha Airport.
(B) Airspace at or above 150m above ground level.
(C) Above Densely Inhabited Districts (DID), which are defined and published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

* For the further details of (B) and (C), please refer to
http://maps.gsi.go.jp/#8/35.563512/140.339355/&base=std&ls=std%7Cdid2010%7Ckokuarea&disp=111&lcd=kokuarea&vs=c1j0l0u0f0&d=vl
http://maps.gsi.go.jp/#10/35.633861/139.783173/&base=english&ls=english|did2010|kokuarea&disp=111&lcd=english&vs=c1j0l0u0f0&d=v
Please click “OK”, you can confirm the areas of (A) and (C).
Green area : (A) Airspace around airports
Red area    : (C) Densely Inhabited Districts

JCAB Illustration of restricetd and unrestricted drone operating areas
JCAB Illustration of restricted and unrestricted drone operating areas

Operational Limitations

Regardless of where you fly, you must follow the rules listed below when flying a UA/Drone:

[1] Do not operate UA/Drones under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
[2] Fly and operate UA/Drones after preflight actions.
[3] Operate UA/Drones to prevent collision hazards with airplanes and other UAs/Drones.
[4] Do not operate UA/Drones in a careless or reckless manner.
[5] Fly and operate UA/Drones in the daytime.
[6] Operate UA/Drones within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).
[7] Keep a 30m or more operating distance between UA/Drones and persons or properties on the ground/water surface.
[8] Do not operate UA/Drones over event sites where many people gather.
[9] Do not transport hazardous materials such as explosives by UA/Drone.
[10] Do not drop any objects from UAs/Drones.
If you intend to fly a UA/Drone regardless of rules [5] to [10] above, you must obtain approval from the Regional Civil Aviation Bureau in advance.

Exception

Requirements stated in “Airspace in which Flights are Prohibited” and “Operational Limitations” are not applied to flights for search and rescue operations by public organizations in case of accidents and disasters. (Exception for part of the rules.)

Penalty

If the above rules are violated, the UAV operator is liable for a fine of up to 500,000 yen. (* If [1] is violated, the UAV operator is liable for imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to 300,000 yen.)

Permission & Approval

You are required to submit an application in Japanese for permission or approval to the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism for at least 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) before you fly a UA/Drone. For further information, please contact the UA/Drone Counseling Service.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Japan

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can be operated by hobbyists subject to the following guidelines:

  • Permission is required to fly in airspace A, B, or C. 
    • Aerial space surrounding airports. 
    • At or above 150m, airspace 
    • Districts with a High Density of Inhabitants (DID) 
  • Maximum Height Maximum 150m / 492ft > 150m / 492ft requires permission 
  • Maximum Range: None must always remain within the operator’s line-of-sight unless approval for a beyond-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operation has been granted. 
  • There is no upper weight limit for take-off. 
  • Although a license is not required, you must apply in Japanese to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism for at least ten days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) before flying a drone. 
  • Unless prior approval has been granted, operations must be conducted during the day. 
  • Drone labeling is not required; it is recommended. 
  • Liability insurance for drones is not required; it is recommended.

Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Japan

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can be operated by hobbyists subject to the following guidelines:

  • Permission is required to fly in airspace A, B, or C. 
    • Aerial space surrounding airports. 
    • At or above 150m, airspace 
    • Districts with a High Density of Inhabitants (DID) 
  • Maximum Height Maximum 150m / 492ft > 150m / 492ft requires permission 
  • Maximum Range: None must always remain within the operator’s line-of-sight unless approval is granted beyond-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operation. 
  • There is no upper weight limit for take-off. 
  • Although a license is not required, you must apply in Japanese to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism for at least ten days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) before flying a drone. 
  • Unless prior approval has been granted, operations must be conducted during the day. 
  • Labeling your drone is not required, but it is recommended. 
  • Liability insurance for drones is not required, but it is recommended.

Useful published information on flying drones in Japan

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Japan…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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