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Politics

Japan lawmakers seek to ban drone flights over government buildings

TOKYO -- Japan's government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party are looking to regulate drones in two stages, first by banning them from the skies above the parliament and other important buildings.

     The push for restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles comes after one landed on the roof of the prime minister's office.

     Japan imposes hardly any regulations on the use of drones. They are treated the same under the law as radio-controlled model aircraft. Owners are not required to register them and can fly them at altitudes of up to 250 meters almost anywhere, except near airports and certain other places.

     LDP lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a draft of a bill that seeks to protect government buildings from drones. It would allow police to take action to stop drones from entering restricted areas.

     The bill's narrow focus could help it gain opposition support, backers say. Restrictions on drone flights over other types of buildings and penalties for such actions are to be considered separately.

     Lawmakers will initiate the bill in the current legislative session, a departure from the normal practice of government introduction. This approach avoids procedural hurdles.

     "We want to establish only a framework for regulation so that we can enact it quickly," a senior LDP lawmaker said.

     The government is looking to propose more thorough restrictions on drones in a later parliamentary session. They are expected to include a provision whereby vendors would collect personal information about drone buyers and submit it to authorities. But drawing the line between drones and model airplanes will prove tricky, as will dealing with the sheer volume of drones already in the market.

(Nikkei)

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