Drone registration system begins in Japan

Drone owners in Japan are obliged to register their craft with the government under a revised aviation law that took effect on Monday.

The registration system was introduced amid concerns over drone-related incidents and crimes. It is designed to allow the swift identification of owners or users in such cases.

The use of drones has been on the rise for distribution, security and disaster rescue purposes.

The revised Civil Aeronautics Act obliges owners to register all of their unmanned aerial vehicles weighing 100 grams or more.

Flights of unregistered vehicles are banned. Violations may be punished by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 500,000 yen, or about 3,700 dollars.

The new system requires drones to carry their registration numbers. The vehicles must also be able to use radio waves to send out data on their location and speed.

The transport ministry says more than 200,000 drones have been registered since it began accepting applications in December.

The use of drones is believed to increase further, with Japan expected to allow level 4 flights by year-end. Level 4 means the vehicle is operating outside of the user's visible range in a populated area.

An official of the ministry's division for unmanned aircraft safety stresses the need for the system, saying that risks of accidents may increase when more drones are in use.