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22 Apr, 2015 09:21

Radioactive drone found on Japan PM’s office roof

Radioactive drone found on Japan PM’s office roof

A drone marked with the radioactive sign and equipped with a camera, flare and water bottle, was found on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Tokyo office. A police investigation is underway.

A group of ministry officials and security could be seen huddled around the UAV on the rooftop, as it was covered by a blue tarpaulin. Footage from broadcaster NHK first showed a device with four propellers, which was about 50cm wide.

Very low levels of radioactive cesium emanate from the drone, but are too low to cause any real harm to humans.

The contents of the bottle attached to the machine have not been disclosed.

Officials carry a blue box that local media reported contains a drone from the rooftop of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo April 22, 2015. (Reuters / Toru Hanai)

The UAV was discovered about 10:30am by an employee, Abe’s office said in a statement, according to the Japan Times.

Police were called immediately and an investigation detected small levels of radiation.

One possible connection could be continuing citizen disapproval of the government’s reliance on nuclear energy, especially following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The PM overcame another legal hurdle on the way to reopening Japan’s nuclear facilities last Wednesday, as a court rejected the bid to block the Sendai power station from reopening, to a chorus of disapproval.

Police and security officers investigate an unidentified drone (covered under a blue sheet) which was found on the rooftop of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 22, 2015. (Reuters / Kyodo)

Abe is in Indonesia this week, marking the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference.

The Transport Ministry has already highlighted how the incident is a testament to weak drone flight regulations. Drones are becoming ubiquitous worldwide, while they are widely available in shops throughout Japan. Currently, a drone operator only has to inform aviation authorities if they plan to fly a device at altitudes higher than 250 meters (about 820 feet). Otherwise, the law only extends to flying next to or over an airport, as well as when flight routes set aside for other aircraft are encroached on.

The only other incident of this sort in recent times involved a quadrocopter drone landing on the White House lawn in Washington, DC.

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