'Don't drink and drone,' say Japanese MPs

Drunkenly flying a drone weighing more than 200g in Japan could result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen (S$3,780)
Drunkenly flying a drone weighing more than 200g in Japan could result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen (S$3,780)ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

TOKYO (AFP) - People in Japan operating drones under the influence could face up to a year in prison under new laws passed on Thursday (June 13) that aim to control the increasingly popular devices.

Drunkenly flying a drone weighing more than 200g could also result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen (S$3,780), after the Lower House of Parliament passed the new legislation following a string of accidents.

Performing dangerous stunts with drones, such as sharp plunges, will also be subject to fines of up to 500,000 yen.

"We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving," a Transport Ministry official told AFP.

The rules come as Japan sees a rising amount of drone usage as well as related accidents.

In 2017, an industrial-sized drone was deployed at a "robot festival" in Ogaki city in central Japan and was supposed to shower small children with sweets.

But the device, operated by a qualified individual, injured six people after plunging 10m to the ground.

Japan has also had to confront issues with tourists flying drones in congested tourist areas like Kyoto.

Last month, Japan passed a set of laws to ban drones over Tokyo 2020 Olympic sites and United States military facilities, after banning them over key facilities like the Prime Minister's Office and the Imperial Palace.