Drone Laws in Japan

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Japan

Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB)

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism

Flight Rules Explained (English)

Updated September 29, 2022


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.)

Important Notice regarding registration and remote ID

The mandatory registration of Unmanned Aircraft became effective on June 20, 2022. No flights of unregistered Unmanned Aircraft weighing 100 g or more are allowed after June 20, 2022. Please be sure to register your Unmanned Aircraft. Also, Unmanned Aircraft of 100 g or more are subject to the control of the Civil Aeronautics Act, including the scope of the flight permission system from June 20, 2022.

In addition to displaying a registration ID on the Unmanned Aircraft, the aircraft must be equipped with a remote ID function. The RID equipment installed in the Unmanned Aircraft transmits the aircraft’s identification information via radio waves even during a flight, not only enabling you to identify whether or not it is registered but also ensuring safe skies.

As of June 20th, 2022, all drones over the weight of 100 grams are required to be registered. Follow this link to register and pay the fee (900 to 2,400 yen for the first drone, depending on the application method). Your drone must also be equipped with a remote ID function or remote ID equipment.

Prohibited Airspace for Flight

Any person who intends to operate a UA/Drone in the following airspaces must 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 the 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 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 must 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, toy, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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32 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Japan”

  1. I am a traveler from Hong Kong and want to register my drone for compliance with Japan laws. However the registration experience is not very good. Firstly, it does not accept English characters for the names. Secondly, there is no selection of Hong Kong in the country list or phone number.

    Reply
    • Roger, please get in touch with the regulator. You can see from the comments that some have had similar difficulties from other locations

      Reply
  2. Hello everyone, just a clarification…

    | “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.” |

    *Does it mean that I must apply for every flight that I make for recreational purposes?
    **If so, does this cover all areas, or only if I fly the drone on public areas, such as lakes, rivers, etc? (I will fly the drone in the school ground to record the sports festival, the principal gave me an OK, I’m a teacher btw.)
    ***Or, does applying to Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism means that I must register the drone, and only apply permission if flying (A), (B) or (C)?

    Reply
  3. Hi, where is everyone planning to fly their drones in Japan?
    I am going in a week. I am almost done with the registration process but I checked with some locals recently and Osaka as well as Kyoto is pretty much a no fly zone. Tokyo is for sure a no fly zone. So unless people are making a trip out of densely populated areas just to fly, I am curious to know if that’s the case? As most people don’t go to Japan to go to less populated areas. Or am I missing something?

    Reply
  4. I think the new DJI Avata has a remote id function, but I can’t find it in your menu. As I’d like to fly it in my vacation next month. Please update. Thanks

    Reply
    • Don’t see any improvement after 26/10 firmware update on my dji mini 3 Pro. Still no clear instruction on where to write RID!!!

      Reply
  5. Hello,

    I got a question for you guys. I tried registering my Mavic Air 2S.
    I registered on-line and mailed the office a back and front copy of my residency ID in Japan showing age, address, etc. I received an email from the (DIPS-REG) site stating there was a deficiency in the application found.

    The problem is I don’t know what this deficiency is and it was not explained in the email.

    My Japanese is nonexistent, I have been calling the office but only receive a voice message in Japanese. Is there any other way to give them my information?

    Looking for clarity,

    Eric Charles Jones

    Reply
      • Thanks but that is not always possible with people busy during working hours and no reliable way to contact this government office.

        I’m curious. Are there any paid companies or agencies that act as an agent to help foreigners register their drone in Japan? I have tried 4 times and my applications has been rejected often without stated reasons.

        Additionally, after two months of trying to get through to the help desk with the number provided on the English site, no one spoke English sufficiently enough to give assistance.

        Reply
    • Hi Eric

      Have you figured out what “deficiency” on the provided detials you sent on the form. I am having this issue aswell. I don’t know what I am missing at all and it’s getting frustrating.

      Thanks
      Chris

      Reply
  6. Anyone successfully register Mavic Air 2 with Japan DIPS-REG website to fly a drone in Japan? My registration complete till before payment, worried Mavic Air 2 is not qualified. but DJI claims that firmware V01.01.0920 supported RID for Japan requirement.

    Reply
    • We understand the DJI mini 2 does not have a remote ID function built in, so since it is over 100g you must add remote ID equipment to it.

      Reply
      • Actually, checked with DJI Japan since and with the lasted firmware update the Mini2 has remote ID capabilities (this firmware update was specifically to address the updated Japanese law) other models are included as well, although is worth noting that the Mini is not.

        Reply
    • The drone registration costs 900 to 2,400 yen depending on the application method (for the first drone). Please see the link provided above for more details

      Reply
  7. This screws up owning a Mavic Mini at all in Japan and now, it appears, I’ll have to get a 40,000 ¥ RID thing? This rule change completely focused on the 199g Mavic Mini. You can’t even sell it if someone knows you have to pay an extra 40k.

    Reply
    • Yeah, unfortunately the Mini needs an external RID.

      The Mini2 has RID capabilities (confirmed with DJI Japan) and just needs the latest firmware update, then it can be activated in Settings.

      Reply
  8. You need to register the drone (provided is on the government’s list of safe drones), and you also need to buy a +¥40,000 Remote ID (RID) device, if your cheap or “older” drone does not have a built-in one.

    Reply

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