In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo on May 23, the U.S. Army in Okinawa commented on the regulation of drone use by saying, “The use of drones is banned in all Army facilities.” The U.S. Army indicated that it will not allow drones to be flown even it receives a request for permission to take aerial photography, adding, “Media outlets are no exception.” It cited the safety of the public and military operations as reasons for the ban. Japan enacted a bill on May 17 to revise the law regulating drone flights. The revised law will newly prohibit drone flights over facilities and areas provided to the U.S. military in Japan. The law allows these sites to be photographed if permission is granted by a U.S. commander. But this law is likely to become a mere formality because the U.S. military will not grant permission.
The U.S. Army in Okinawa explained, “Drone flights threaten the safety of military operations and endanger military aircraft, soldiers and their families, and citizens.” It added, “Recently, there have been multiple cases in which people illegally flew drones above and near military facilities in Okinawa.” (Abridged)