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Rakuten's package delivery drones to take flight soon

Rural areas in Japan would be serviced, but cost is a concern

Rakuten's package drone takes flight through the mountains of Chichibu, Japan, during a proving test Friday. (Photo by Aya Onishi)

TOKYO -- Rakuten, one of Japan's leading e-commerce platforms, said Friday it will start delivering packages via drones in sparsely populated areas during the fiscal year beginning in April, now that the country has eased regulations on such flights.

"We will make regular deliveries during the 2019 fiscal year in underpopulated areas and the like," said Hideaki Mukai, general manager of Rakuten's drone business department. The company is in the process of selecting prospective locations for what could be the first service of its kind in Japan.

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