Police arrest man over drone landing at Japan PM office

AP News
Posted: Apr 25, 2015 1:40 AM
Police arrest man over drone landing at Japan PM office

TOKYO (AP) — 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 containing 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.