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All Drone Laws in Japan in 2023 (Ultimate Guide)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
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height flight limit 1

150m max height

cant fly over crowds of people 1

Don't fly over crowds

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Don't fly near airports

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30 m from property

What’s interesting about flying drones in Japan? When you hear Unmanned aerial vehicle, the first thing that comes to mind is stealth weapons or advanced package delivery drones. 

Today drones are used for practically anything from capturing wedding photos or carrying out mapping or industrial inspections. 

With more people adopting the use of drones in Japan, few are aware of the laws involved given the dense government websites, written in Japanese. 

Japan Civil Aviation Authority is the custodian of drone laws in the country.

Can I fly my drone in Japan?

Yes. It is legal to fly a drone in Japan. For a while, there were no drone laws in place, till some random guy decided to fly a drone filled with radioactive sand over the Japanese prime minister’s house. Unfortunately for the industry, unpleasant events such as those never go unnoticed. Japan set up drone laws to act as a basic regulatory framework for the industry.

Who do I contact?

You can get in touch with the JCAB, which is the body concerned with drones.

Email: hqt-jcab.mujin@ml.mlit.go.jp 

Tel +8135253 8111

How are drones classified in Japan?

Drones are clustered into a general category, meaning the law does not separate commercial from recreational. Both are subjected to the respective codes of contact and restrictions. 

It is important to point out that the Japanese authorities are considering starting up a drone registration authority.

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Laws around the flying of commercial and recreational drones in Japan

To fly in the following areas, you must have authorization from the ministry concerned:

  • 150 meters - 492 feet over the ground
  • Near any airports, airstrips, or helipads.
  • Flight above densely populated areas
  • To receive authorization, apply 10 days before you perform the said operation.
  • You can only fly a drone during the day
  • Drone pilots must always maintain VLOS in their operations.
  • Keep 30 meters away from private property or people.
  • Do not use drones in the transportation of harmful goods
  • No intentional or accidental dropping of goods with the drone.

How to apply for permission to fly a drone in Japan?

Your request should be submitted 10 days prior and can be sent via mail or post. An easier way would be to personally drop it off at the office concerned. Applications sent via email or Fax will not be accepted unless under emergency situations. 

To send it via post, use this application form

When addressing the letter, it is highly advisable that you address it in Japanese.

Can I fly a drone in Tokyo?

Yes, you can. However, it is important to point out that, most parts of the 23 wards fall under the densely populated category.

What is the penalty for breaking the drone rules?

You will fall under this category if you were flying an illegal operation. The courts shall determine the extent of your punishment. The judges will gauge your infraction and arrive at a decision on whether you are culpable or not. The Civil Aviation Act proposes a penalty of:

  • Up to 500,000 yen
  • Flying under the influence of alcohol could land you a jail term or sentence in excess of 300,000 yen.

In worst-case scenarios, your penalty might be extended to the Protection of Cultural practices, Road Traffic Act, and others.

Do I need permission to fly my drone in Japan?

If your drone falls in the below 200 g category, you do not need permission. However, you still need permission if you plan on flying it close to an airport. 

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What are my top drones to fly safely in Japan?

My following two recommendations are 2 great compact drones that are quite silent and also small enough to travel with and not stand out as annoying.

1. DJI Mini 2- The best international travel drone (under 250g)

camera-icon-spec

4k

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31 min

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10 km

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No follow-me

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DJI has surprised us with this incredible camera drone under 250g, which is legal to fly in most countries without registration.

It comes at a very cheap price for its incredible specs.I have covered it much more in-depth in my article review and even compared it with the Mavic Air 2.

2. DJI Mavic Air 2 - My favorite drone overall

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4k 60p

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34 min

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10 km

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Follow me

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If you want more control over things like shutter speed, iso, and such, the best professional drone that still falls under the 500g category is the DJI Mavic Air.

It's made mostly for people who want to play around with settings and enter into the pro category.

DJI lowered its price since it was first released.

Restricted Areas and Geofencing (Drone Flying map)

The best way to figure out what areas you can fly in, while you're here is by consulting DJI's official map.

They do a great job mapping the places that one should avoid while flying in every country:

  • airports
  • military bases
  • prisons
  • power plants
  • any high-risk areas

These would be the current updated drone laws for Japan. I suggest checking my full map with all the countries' drone laws to see where it's best to travel.

Conclusion 

If you are going to visit Japan, make sure you’ve learned all the dos and don’ts of flying drones in this region. This will help you have a safe journey and enjoy flying your drone without getting yourself into trouble.

Also, keep in mind that, commercial and recreational drones are treated differently in most countries therefore you will need to prepare yourself accordingly. Last but not least, always follow rules and regulations and make sure to respect the laws of every country.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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