Complaints lead to debate about whether noise from schools should be regulated

By Meg Murphy

With Japan trying to figure out how to handle its issue of a declining population (predicted to decrease by one-third over the next half century if the current trend in birth rates continues), the country has been working to raise awareness of the problem and implement more resources for children and parents.

However, with a recent increase of new day cares, preschools, and kindergartens, there has also been an increase of complaints about noise, particularly from elderly residents.

Some of these cases have even gone to court, and have resulted in some schools having to restrict outdoor playtime for the children and keep their curtains closed.

Below are how some Japanese net users have responded to this news:

“I wouldn’t like it if kids were quiet.”

“Brats are noisy, so I understand the feeling. But I also think those old people who file complaints about it should die.”

“Honestly, kids are noisy, but it’s not fair to tell them to keep quiet. Just something you have to deal with.”

“Well, duh! Were you guys quiet as kids?! Kids are naturally noisy. That’s how they’re supposed to be.”

On Dec 22, plans were put forth to revise a Tokyo ordinance to improve the urban environment, and reduce noise from pre-elementary school children as one of its target regulations. Efforts are also being made to get day care and school facilities talking with the surrounding residents to determine whether to restrict certain types of noise (such as instruments), or if other sound-proofing measures need to be taken.

Hopefully improving relationships between schools and neighborhood residents will ease tensions and help those bothered by the sound of kids at play to see that having lively, happy children in the area is a good thing.

Sources: Hachima Kiko, 47NEWS

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This is just so sick. These oldies should be happy to see and hear youngsters at play. It's not as if they are disturbing the peace like the bosozoku.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Incredible! Children's laughter is meiwaku, but PA systems and amplified engines aren't?

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Strange. I always thought Japanese people liked noise and hated quiet.

If they don't like noise, they shouldn't live in Japan.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Japan has too many grumpy old farts.

16 ( +18 / -2 ) about closing your windows for a bit then? So when these oldies were pre school age they didnt make any noise right? They want the young to support their pension payments in the future but dont want the kids to be kids who naturally are happy and noisy when playing sometimes. If i say i have a problem with the retirees crowding the hospitals,clinics and gyms on any given day will the govt. start a " debate" on that too? Of course not as these selfish foggies are the ones who show up at elections and keep voting in the other fossils who only create policies to support them. Obviously not all the oldies are the same but the complainers should take moment to reflect on when they were kids and then hang their heads in shame.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Gary's new noise regulation.

All establishments and places where children under the age of 17, congregate, play, learn, engage in sports or just breath , shall be hereby exempt from noise regulations. All those who wish to complain must fill out the required forms and pay an Application To Complain fee of one million yen for the first complaint. All following complaints have a payable fee of five million yen each.

I think I'll pat myself on the back for fixing the problem in 2 minutes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Its time to Dump all Oldies in to Senkaku Islands. Yeah please do that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am sandwiched between a huge elementary school about 30 meters and a giant day care about 15 meters with a hoard of screaming tykes. So where I live it's very loud, but to be honest, it doesn't bother me at all, it's like White noise for me, now because of the Winter holidays, everything is quiet and it feels kinda ghostly. I think kids should be allowed to be stupid, funny, crazy and everything normal that kids do, for Chirst's sake, the kids in this country are always studying and always have to be serious, it's good for kids to be kids sometimes and these people complaining need to get a life. Kids are not allowed to be loud, you can't play your music loud, you can't turn up your TV and when you drive a car or listen to music through your headphones, you need to keep it down. When is a person allowed to be loud except for the usual Baseball game stadium. Like we always said back at my old music school, if it's too loud it equals you're too old!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

With a quarter of Japan's population over 65 and rising we'll most likely see these complaints increasing in the future. Maybe the young Japanese will start to complain about having to to psy for these complaining oldsters - now, there's a thought....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I do not think it is the children that make the noise so much as the huge PA systems the schools (particularly kindergartens) insist on using.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Some of these cases have even gone to court, and have resulted in some schools having to restrict outdoor playtime for the children and keep their curtains closed.

Just another reason why Japan's population will continue to shrink.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )


I do not think it is the children that make the noise so much as the huge PA systems the schools (particularly kindergartens) insist on using.

You got there first ! I was about to say the exact same thing ! The laughter and running around of little kids playing brings back fond memories of one's own youth but "nantoka sensei, denwa desu" through a loudspeaker can spoil the whole effect... On he other hand, I do take exception to kids screaming bloody murder in shops, supermarkets and department stores because mother refuses to buy them whatever it is they want...

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Hellokitty123: I do not think it is the children that make the noise so much as the huge PA systems the schools (particularly kindergartens) insist on using.

Yes - I think this comment is the true issue. I also used to live behind a large elementary school, and it was unbearable at times. The children laughing and shouting and having fun was fine - a little noisy, yes, but ultimately it was OK. The bigger problem was the noise created by the school's staff. The huge PA system mentioned above was a big issue. Announcement were echoing throughout the neighborhood all day. Another was the continual use of drums and whistles and amplified music. The weeks leading up until the Sports Festival was filled with pistol fire (to signal the start of races) again and again.

And "cranky old people" aren't the only ones with issues. People at office jobs often forget how many other people work jobs with nontraditional hours. Police officers, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, chefs and restaurant staff, factory workers, taxi drivers, train drivers, security guards, convenience store workers, and many other people work "strange" hours and need to get their sleep during the day. This constant and unnecessary noise is very disrespectful to them.

In a community, it's everyone's responsibility to provide a reasonable living environment for everyone else in the area. Just because it's fashionable to say "But what about the children???" doesn't mean that school are exempt from this responsibility. Laughing children at play? OK. Pop music blasting through the town day after day because it's necessary to rehearse a dance routine for the Sports Festival? No.

That's the bigger issue for neighbors. Don't write this off as "selfish people who hate children."

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The sound of children at play is a sign of a healthy society. It's not like they're out there all day at all times when they're at school or in the playground.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This "debate" is patently absurd and offensive on more levels than I can count.

Comments above about overzealous use of PA systems make some sense, but Sports Festivals? These happen but once a year and monopolize, at worst, two months’ time, with the average being closer to one month. And during daylight hours no less. What about the other 10 months of relative peace? Also, with regard to people with non-traditional working hours: They represent but a small fraction of working society. Furthermore, these people aren't filing the lawsuits. The elderly are.

In any case, PA systems aren't the issue, regardless of some posters' personal observations. As this and previous articles on the subject have clearly pointed out, these grumpy old fuddy-duddies are taking schools to court specifically to restrict children's outdoor playtime. It's not the PA systems that are being challenged, but rather the sound of children at play that's being objected to.

Take a second to chew on that statement: These people are objecting to the sound of children at play.

There is no "debate" to be had. Children play. Children run around and jump and burn off that excessive energy that we all wistfully wish we has just a little bit more of. And Children make noise; They get excited; They get enthusiastic; They scream in delight and yell when affronted. They're children and this kind of active interaction and socialization is essential to their healthy physical and emotional development.

It should go without saying that children are the very necessary lifeblood of a society, particularly one as desperate for new children as Japan's is. But apparently it does need to be said.

The teeth-grating irony to be seen here is that these whinging old curmudgeons are the very same generation that did virtually nothing to address desperately needed changes and adjustments to a Japanese society that is all but hostile to the idea of raising a family. This is the Baby Boomer Generation that all but tossed Japanese traditional family values out on their ear as they re-dedicated their lives to Japan, Inc., and the unfettered acquisition of wealth during the heyday of the Bubble.

And now that they've got theirs, including retirement benefits from a system not yet depleted, but soon to be a victim of the very same Boomers' political and social apathy and complacency, screw the rest of the world, eh? Selfish, myopic, asshats with selective memory loss, the lot of 'em.

They want peace and quiet? They should sell their places and move into the more tightly controlled, wholly regulated environment of a distant retirement community. Boom! Everyone wins.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@LFRAgain, you repeat some very good points that other commenters have made, but you made one glaring mistake, if I may say so - it is not Baby Boomers (born between 1948 and 1962) who are to blame, it's their 70- and 80-something-year-old parents who are doing the complaining.

And as a deaf Boomer, I don't have a problem with kids making noise at play. Perhaps we should give all the 'old farts', as one commenter called them, ear plugs? Problem solved, without the cost of moving those old folks to distant retirement communities. Their pensions are already costing enough.

Just a thought.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All I can say is thank goodness I didn't grow up in Japan, dreary for most kids & now the oldies are bitching about a bit of noise, get stuffed I say!

There are times & place where kids should be able & encouraged to let loose & BE KIDS, what a concept eh!

That said I wish more parents would try to teach their kids there are times & places for letting it all out & there are times & places to tone it down, don't seem to see much of the later

anyway I would rather hear kids than so much other REAL noise typical of Japan!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

thank goodness I didn't grow up in Japan... I say!.. eh!... typical of Japan!

If you did, you would have been using less !!!s or LOLs in your expressions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think these complaints about children making noise coming from oldies is just obscene. There is so much noise pollution in Japan, but complaining about children? That is so barking up the wrong tree. They should be happy that there are some children around. What do they want to country to be like... a graveyard?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Grumpy old farts can vote, so popular seeking fake politicians WILL listen to grumpy old farts. "I'm gonna die soon, I don't want to be reminded of how happy a child with life ahead of them can be".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

regulate the sounds of a nations future only to silence and cut it short. What kind of Japan is this turning into? Instead why not worry about the real noise issues like the guys that cruise all day long up and down then stop at train stations, with huge massive speakers to chant about the glory days and imperialistic Japan while trying to recruit the very same kids that are being complained about. Leave the kids be kids that and regulate real issues like smoking on public walkways, smokers riding while on bicycles, those motorcycle gangs etc.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So where is this going?

Any child making a noise greater than 130 decibels is subject to severe reprimand.

All children to be fitted with noise measuring devices.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Usually the loud little brats on the play grounds are the same loud brats in restaurants, trains and stores. They are not trained to use normal voices, and want everyone to see and hear them.

Kids can be trained. I was.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Forget about the natural sound of children enjoying their lives and focus more on noise pollution from shops, uyoku vans, and people with loud speakers pushing their political stance or latest product.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some people will complain about everything . Just think if all the playgrounds and schools were empty and no young people alive what would those persons complain about then.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Or they could just issue noise cancelling earphones to everyone who lives next to an elementary school or day care. It would be a lot cheaper and more effective than messing around with "sound proofing" everything. Maybe with a free ipod shuffle or something containing "Best of the Golden Oldies - 1000 hours of traditional Japanese music".

That should keep everyone happy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Jolly good idea Frungers!

Issue them with noise cancelling earphones!

If science could progress to a point where it would become possible to fit children with volume controls, that would work too!

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Thanks for the comment, however, my choice to lay blame at the feet of Baby Boomers wasn't misguided. The people primarily complaining have tended to be in their mid-70s, not 80s or 90s. (To be fair, though, they've also been in their 50s an 60s, with even a few 40-something housewives throwing their hat into the ring about noisy children and acceptable decibel levels during mid-day. But it's the Boomers who really get my goat). :-)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Noise-cancelling headphones only work with noise of a steady volume and frequency (like an engine). Kids at play are decidedly NOT of a steady frequency and volume.

Just wondering... are these old people the ones running those loudspeaker trucks every time an election rolls around? They can't get those loudspeakers muted so now they want to mute children?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

FadamorJan. 03, 2015 - 02:12AM JST Noise-cancelling headphones only work with noise of a steady volume and frequency (like an engine). Kids at play are decidedly NOT of a steady frequency and volume.

I think you are mistaken. Most noise cancelling headphones use two different technologies to cancel noise. The first is active noise cancelling, which detects very high and low-pitched frequencies and cancels them out with an opposite wave-length. Old people, who's hearing has degenerated, don't need this technology since they can't hear those sounds anyway.

The second technology use in noise cancelling headphones is good old-fashioned insulation. Insulation is used to reduce almost all mid-range frequency noise. This doesn't mean the headphones have to be bulky or uncomfortable, if you look at some of the newest noise cancelling headphones they're very light and comfortable.

... or more simply we could just stop selling batteries at all local stores in those areas. Once the old people's hearing aids run out of batteries they'll find the sound a lot less bothersome. I know this was my grandfather's preferred method for getting some peace and quiet. He'd simply "misplace" his hearing aid for a few hours.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

These Old crabs vote and they constantly voice their opinion since they have plenty of time to do so. The local politicians basically have to listen to them since... without them... they won't get elected. This is the bad part about Democracy... all you need is 51% of the vote and you can legalize murder even. Believe it or not... think about it... very little can be done to stop these elderly self centered crabs from getting their way since they're the majority.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I think a lot of you forget that there are a lot of dodgy @day care" centers opened up in people's houses or in apartment buildings. These are most likely the places they are talking about. These non public schools and fake international schools are unregulated and are rife with illegality and abuse yet are also ignored!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )


Respectfully, no one's forgetting that "dodgy day care centers" exisit. However, the daycares, kindergartens, and public schools that are being complained about are established, licensed facilities, not back-alley operations. The very fact that lawsuits have resulted in the facilities simply being asked by officials to keep children indoors rather than their law-breaking owners being paraded in handcuffs before a wall of media more than suggests this is the case. The illegailty and abuse at these so called fake schools is a completely unrelated issue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Strange. I always thought Japanese people liked noise and hated quiet.If they don't like noise, they shouldn't live in Japan

I spent Xmas time abroad and the first thing I realize on my way back to Tokyo was how loud some salary men were talking on the train station and I thought ...well, I am back to Japan, double confirmed also when I turned the TV ON at home to warm the


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am a grumpy, old fart, but I do not live next to a school. I have to deal with construction workers and their make shift work places with 'their' hours, oil trucks with volume full blast, crows that caw until they cannot caw anymore, slamming car doors, newspaper delivery men on their noisy motorbikes early in the morning and early evening, garbage pick up truck, Co-op delivery trucks and other delivery trucks as late as 10:00 p.m., slamming shutters almost like clock work in the evening and opening shutters in the morning, military airplane runs, the constant chirping of crickets during summer and early fall, remodeling of homes or area around home, and last but not least ... my wife's grinding teeth. She has done well to put up with my snoring! With all that, maybe I need to move next to a school just to drown out the sounds that I hear on a daily basis Now you know why grandpa is grumpy! LOL Happy New Year everyone!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How absolutely ridiculous. As has been pointed out, any noise made by children is only a few times a day when they are enjoying a break, or at the end of the day when they leave for home. During public holidays and various breaks, they are not around. If the oldies can't abide even that, maybe they should move. Many people have mentioned small trucks moving slowly through the neighbourhood blaring out messages which it seems most people ignore; maybe start with a law that controls THAT?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

High schools would be worst- they have a lot of sports with children running around the streets not just on weekdays also weekends and far more than once a year sports days. It really shows how rude Japanese that they can't handle these issues without going to court.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you have lived in a neighborhood for YEARS with an elemtary school, you have no right to complain of what you already knew was a natural, regular, seasonal occurrence .

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is one problem I would like to see Prime Minister Abe address with his steamrolling methods of passing legislation. He needs to take a stand on the side of the schools if he ever hopes to see an increase in the birth-rate and condemn these crybabies and put them to shame.

Come on Abe, show the masses where you stand.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Turn off their hearing aids.... problem solved.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


YOU one person can move. Leave. Problem solved.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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