Drone Industry

With the popularity of drones exploding in recent years, so has the number of people and businesses seeking to obtain drone flight licenses soared accordingly.

Whether you are hoping to use your drone for aerial photography, delivering goods or aerial inspections (e.g. of solar panels), you will most likely need to gain the correct permit in order to do so legally (please see below for further details).

Officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones are available in a wide range of sizes and capabilities depending on their function – from pesticide-spreading drones able to fly over 30m high to those small enough to sit in the palm of your hand.

While Japan has long since had an Aviation Law, there were no laws relating UAVs until as recently as December 2015. Since then, the following rules and restrictions have been placed on drones and their users.

Rules and Restrictions

※Please be aware that violation of the following rules can lead to fines of up to ¥500,000.

① Drone Specifications

The drone must be:

  • An aircraft, rotorcraft, glider, airship
  • Structurally incapable of holding passengers
  • Capable of being either be remote controlled or flown using autopilot
  • 200g or more in weight (total weight of the machine body and battery)

② Area Specifications

As flying objects, drones pose a safety risk to those on the ground. If you wish you fly your drone in one of the following types of airspaces, you may need to gain permission to fly from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MILT).

  • Airport airspace
  • Airspace 150m or more above ground or water level
  • Airspace above Densely Inhabited Districts (DIDs)

③ Flight Methods

No matter where you fly your drone, you must:

  • Fly it in daylight (between sunrise and sunset)*
  • Fly it within a range at which both the drone and its surroundings can be constantly observed with the naked eye*
  • Fly it so there is a distance of at least 30m between the drone and people (third parties) and object (third parties’ buildings, vehicles etc)
  • Not fly it over religious or temple festivals at which many people are gathered
  • Not carry explosives or other dangerous goods using the drone
  • Not drop objects from the drone

*If you wish to fly your drone at night or in an area where your direct view is obstructed but you can observe it using a monitor or other equipment, special permission is required from MILT.

※N.B. The above rules and restrictions are not specifically banned by law, but are still treated as such due to concerns for Health and Safety.

For any queries about Japan’s drone industry or about how to establish a company in Japan, please do not hesitate to contact us!


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