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SECURITY > Okinawa

USAF wary of giving consent for drone operation near bases

  • May 22, 2019
  • , Okinawa Times , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

In order to operate a small-sized drone around a U.S. military base, the revised drone regulation law requires consent from the base commander. In response to Okinawa Times’ questions, the U.S. Air Force in Okinawa, which uses the Kadena base, said on May 21, “Only requests that will pose no danger to personnel and facilities and have no adverse effect on operations and security will be subject to consideration,” taking a cautious stance toward giving consent.


Through the Diet deliberations, the Japanese government has explained, “We have requested the U.S. military to strike a balance between safety and freedom of the press and the U.S. forces have shown understanding.” However, the USAF did not answer the daily’s question as to whether to consider freedom of the press. Regarding the process for giving consent, the USAF replied, “We will make a decision based on the safety of the Japanese people and the U.S. forces and each base will decide on a case-by-case basis.”


There have been reported cases of the loss of control of drones flying near bases. Okinawa Times also asked the USAF whether it takes anti-drone measures such as sending jamming signals. “We are responsible for protecting the safety of personnel and facilities,” the base replied. “Regarding drone detection and tracking technology, we refrain from making comment on specific capabilities and methods for security reasons.” In this way, the USAF did not deny taking such measures.


On May 21, the cabinet approved the revised drone regulation law for promulgation. The government will shortly announce the law in an official gazette. It will come into force as early as June 13.

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