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April 23, 2015

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‘Radioactive’ drone lands on roof of Abe’s home

A small drone bearing traces of radioactivity was found on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office yesterday, apparently having been flown there, police said.

Staff at the official residence — known as “the Kantei” — discovered the 50-centimeter craft on top of the five-story structure in central Tokyo mid-morning, according to a spokesman at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

The four-propeller drone had what appeared to be a camera and a plastic container attached, the spokesman said.

Investigators detected very low levels of radiation from the container, which was marked to indicate it contained radioactive substances, Jiji Press and the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The radioactivity, possibly from cesium, was too low to pose any risk to human health, said national broadcaster NHK.

Cesium was among the materials dispersed into the environment at Fukushima after nuclear reactors went into meltdown in the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami.

Footage showed dozens of police officers swarming over the roof and helipad of the Kantei, with the drone covered by a blue tarpaulin. It was later removed in a large plastic case.

Investigators earlier suspected the machine was carrying a flare, but it transpired this was a battery pack, reports said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Indonesia, works at the building during the day, and commutes from his private home about 15 minutes away.

Drones are becoming more common in Japan and there are no legal restrictions on their use, though chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday that the government is examining the issue.

In January, a hobby drone crashed into the White House gardens, sparking a Secret Service investigation.

The operator was an intelligence agency employee who lost control of his friend’s device.

Prosecutors said they will not pursue criminal charges.


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