Passport

Anyone in Tokyo Missing a Radioactive Drone?

The curious case of a drone -- carrying a camera and traces of radioactive material -- that landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister's office.

JAPAN-AVIATION-DRONE-POLITICS
Japanese policemen cover with a blue sheet and inspect a small drone which was found on the roof of the Japanese prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on April 22, 2015. Staff at the official residence discovered the 50-centimetre (20-inch) craft on top of the five-story structure in central Tokyo around mid-morning. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Was it the work of terrorists? Or protesters against Japan’s post-Fukushima return to nuclear energy? Or was it merely an example of high-tech hijinks that flew astray?

Judging by reports from Tokyo, the small drone that landed Wednesday on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office spurred more questions — as evidenced by the number of confused-looking investigators milling around — than actual fear. Small traces of what is believed to be radioactive caesium were found on the drone, which sported a camera and insignia associated with hazmats, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is out of the country, and no emergency was declared.

The drone itself was initially covered by what appeared to be a flimsy piece of cardboard before Japanese authorities sealed off the rooftop around it with a blue tarp and then hauled it off in a box.

It’s not clear how long the drone was on the premier’s roof, and there are no regulations — yet — against flying unmanned aircraft at low altitude in Tokyo. A senior official told reporters that Wednesday’s drone highlights the need for new laws to protect against drones that could be used to threaten the 2020 Olympics in or other meetings of world leaders in Tokyo.

Authorities are investigating. Click here for Tokyo-based NHK’s video report; and here for the BBC.

Photo credit: Getty / Jiji Press / Stringer 

Lara Jakes is the deputy managing editor of news for Foreign Policy magazine and a former war correspondent, Baghdad bureau chief and award-winning senior national security and diplomatic writer for The Associated Press. She's a 1995 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and lives in Alexandria, Va., with her husband. @larajakesFP

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola