Po­lice ar­rest man over drone land­ing at Ja­panese PM of­fice

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY MARI YA­M­AGUCHI

Ja­panese po­lice ar­rested a man who ad­mit­ted to land­ing a drone with low lev­els of ra­dioac­tive sand on the roof of the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice to protest the gov­ern­ment’s nu­clear en­ergy pol­icy, of­fi­cials said Satur­day.

Tokyo metropoli­tan po­lice said the man turned him­self in late Fri­day in Fukui po­lice in west­ern Ja­pan.

The small drone found Wed­nes­day had traces of ra­di­a­tion and trig­gered fears of po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist at­tacks us­ing un­manned aerial de­vices, po­lice said.

No one was in­jured and Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe was trav­el­ing at the time.

Po­lice said Ya­suo Ya­mamoto, 40, was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of fly­ing the drone and ob­struct­ing du­ties at the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice. He has not been in­dicted and faces fur­ther ques­tion­ing.

Public broad­caster NHK said po­lice quoted the un­em­ployed man as say­ing he did it to protest the gov­ern­ment’s nu­clear en­ergy pol­icy.

Fukui is home to about a quar­ter of Ja­pan’s 48 re­ac­tors, which are cur­rently all off­line fol­low­ing the 2011 tsunami-trig­gered Fukushima plant dis­as­ter. Abe’s ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to restart as many of the idled plants as pos­si­ble.

The drone was car­ry­ing a small cam­era and a plas­tic bot­tle con- tain­ing what po­lice sus­pect was the source of ra­dioac­tive ce­sium, lev­els of which were too low to af­fect hu­mans or the en­vi­ron­ment.

The sus­pect said he used the sand from an un­spec­i­fied lo­ca­tion in Fukushima, where ra­di­a­tion lev­els are still high due to fall­outs from the Fukushima Dai- ichi melt­downs, NHK said.

The gov­ern­ment has set up a task­force to work on reg­u­la­tions for the use of small drones while en­sur­ing the se­cu­rity of key gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

It is not clear ex­actly when the drone landed be­cause work­ers at the of­fice in cen­tral Tokyo rarely go up to the roof. An of­fi­cial tak­ing new em­ploy­ees on a build­ing tour re­port­edly spot­ted the drone.

A blog with an anti-nu­clear theme man­aged un­der the name “Kan­tei ( Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice) Santa” con­tained pho­tos of a drone that looked like the one found Wed­nes­day. In one en­try, the anony­mous writer said he drove from his home­town in Obama City in Fukui to Tokyo and flew the drone in the early hours of April 9, try­ing to have it land in the yard of the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice, but he even­tu­ally lost track of the de­vice.

In the United States in Jan­uary, a drone flown by an off-duty in­tel­li­gence em­ployee crashed on the White House grounds.

AP

Ya­suo Ya­mamoto, who ad­mit­ted to land­ing a drone on the roof of the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice, sits in a po­lice car as he is trans­ferred to a po­lice sta­tion in Tokyo on Satur­day, April 25.

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