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American-made baby monitors interfere with communication

Date Posted: 2010-08-19

Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has issued a warning to U.S. Forces in Japan to stop allowing use of baby monitors that people have brought from the U.S. in homes of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines because they interfere with taxi and trucking company radio transmissions.

Unauthorized radio waves are emitted by the American-manufactured monitoring units, above the permissible levels or on frequencies assigned to mobile phone and radio base stations. The ministry calls use of the baby monitors interference in violation of the law. A U.S. Forces Japan spokesman says the military commands are working to curb use of the baby monitors brought from the United States, using broadcast and command information channels to get the word out.

Okinawa has become a hot spot for detection of the illegal radio waves since a 2008 crackdown. Okinawa, which hosts the largest segment of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, says the communications ministry’s local telecommunication office has been investigating illegal radio waves coming from American residential areas, and has determined the radio transmissions were coming from the baby monitors. Similar tracking in military and military family housing areas in Tokyo, and in Kanagawa, Yamaguchi and Nagasaki Prefectures all turned up the same illegal radio waves.

Government officials note, however, that Japanese have also been using foreign-made baby monitors and other illegal devices—including transceivers and cordless telephones—that don’t meet Japanese technical standards. “There are situations in which these signals could affect important communications,” says a ministry spokesman, “so we hope people won’t use products that don’t comply with Japanese standards.”

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