Japan Arrests Man for Landing Drone on Abe’s Office Roof

Japanese police arrested a man who said he was responsible for landing a drone on the roof of the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Yasuo Yamamoto, an unemployed 40-year-old, faces obstruction charges after turning himself in to local police in Fukui prefecture, a police official who declined to give his name citing policy, said Saturday. Operations at Abe’s Tokyo office were disrupted on April 22 when the drone, which carried a small container marked with a radioactive danger sign, was discovered, the official said.

Radiation levels of about 1.0 microsievert/hour from cesium 134 and 137 were detected from the container, public broadcaster NHK reported. The incident may prompt Japan to strengthen legislation governing unmanned aircraft.

“There is a risk that unmanned aircraft could be used for a terrorist attack at events such as the Olympics or the G-7 summit,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. “We have to quickly prepare legislation and rules” on the use of drones, the government spokesman said.

Japanese aviation law requires operators of unmanned aircraft to inform the government if they plan to fly them to a height greater than 250 meters (820 feet).

The drone was found by a worker at 10:27 a.m., shortly after a court rejected a request to block the restart of two nuclear reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in southwestern Japan. This prompted speculation on Japanese social media that anti-nuclear activists may have been responsible.

Landing Time

The police official said the landing could have taken place any time between March 22, when the roof was last accessed, and April 22 when the drone was found.

The drone was identified by NHK as a Phantom, made by SZ DJI Technology Co. of Shenzhen, China -- the same type that was flown onto the grounds of the White House in January. After the incident, U.S. President Barack Obama stressed the need for regulations on the use of small unmanned aircraft by civilians.

Yamamoto, a resident of the town of Obama in Fukui on the central Japan Sea coast, is being transported to Tokyo for further investigation of his motives, the police official said.

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