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Defense Ministry now prohibits drone flights over U.S. bases to protect intelligence

Monday’s Okinawa Times led with the Defense Ministry’s view that it can prohibit news outlets from flying UAVs over U.S. military installations in order to safeguard intelligence. When enforcing a law restricting drone flights over SDF bases and other facilities with national security implications last year, the GOJ emphasized that the regulation is intended to prevent terror attacks and not to limit news gathering by the media. According to the article, the local USMC authorities rejected the daily’s request for permission to fly a drone near Camp Schwab last week in order to ensure operational integrity. The Okinawa Defense Bureau reportedly endorsed the rejection by saying: “The flight plan may pose a security risk since outsiders might be able to learn about the base’s security arrangements and the operational status of its units and personnel.” The paper took this explanation to mean that the Defense Ministry now regards protection of information integrity in addition to security considerations as a reason to not authorize UAV flights over U.S. military facilities.


The daily noted in a separate piece that flying drones over U.S. bases will now be extremely difficult due to the time-consuming paperwork involving both the Defense Ministry and the U.S. military that is required. The paper noted, however, that it flew a drone near Kadena AB on Sept. 7 for news gathering purposes with the base authorities’ consent.

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