Drone ban: Japan to suspend procurement of Chinese-built UAVs


Japan’s government will stop buying commercial drones made by Chinese companies, including DJI, because of ‘security concerns’, according to government officials.

Japan is concerned about information technology, supply chains, cyber security and intellectual property, Reuters reported.

The country has introduced a tighter set of rules reportedly aimed at China which include new investment guidelines for foreigners.

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Japan currently uses Chinese-made drones across various government entities but it is unclear whether it will replace these units.

In any case, the move will provide a significant boost for domestic drone manufacturers and suppliers in the coming years.

Chinese firm DJI commands the lion’s share of the commercial drone market and is not expected to suffer deeply from revenues lost as a result of Japan’s decision.

Japan’s government, which operates around 1,000 drones according to the Japan UAS Industrial Development Association, is far from DJI’s largest customer and other governments from around the world will continue to invest in its products.

DJI has specifically designed a ‘government edition’ of some of its drones, which are specially made so that they can be operated securely. The models do not connect to the internet, for example.

If Japan’s government goes out to market for new drone suppliers, it will likely place a focus on security.

A government official told Reuters that the decision was made to ‘keep Japan secure’ rather than to provide a boost for Japan’s drone-makers.

Government sales account for just a small part of the country’s $1.35 billion drone market.

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