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Oroku residents oppose construction of phone relay mast

Date Posted: 2002-12-14

NTT Docomo’s plan to construct a cellular phone relay station in Uebaru, Naha’s Oroku area has met with unusually strong resistance from local residents who fear that electromagnetic waves from the antenna would pose a health hazard for people living near by. Many say that they have read papers that the waves cause headaches and other ailments for those who live close to their source. “We don’t want to become sick because of electromagnetic waves. We hear that this kind of relay antenna can strongly affect our health,” and elderly local resident said.

Officials at NTT have tried to allay such fears since October when they publicized the plan to construct the antenna to the area. “There will be no problems. The waves that our antenna emits are too weak to affect humans. Many scientific studies all over the world have proven that,” an NTT spokesman said.

Scientific or not, many residents are not convinced. “Why do they have to build their antenna in our community? There are many places with much less people where they could build their facility,” a woman shopping groceries said.

Some residents even took action after NTT unveiled its plans. They started collecting signatures to a petition opposing the plan, and managed to get enough names on the list to block the company’s plans. By law, if one fifth or more of local residents oppose the project, NTT cannot start the construction.

NTT is still hoping that it can convince people to change their minds. “Naturally, we have to listen to local people’s opinion. But at the same time, we have to keep in mind that if we don’t build this antenna, many more people will be affected as the cell phone connections suffer. We are still decided to send our planning papers to the prefecture office for approval,” the NTT spokesman said.

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