The Yomiuri ShimbunAbout 75 percent of major local governments nationwide have received complaints from local residents who find children at day care centers to be too noisy, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
Of 146 major local governments, 109 said they experienced complaints over children’s voices and the sounds they make at day care centers. A total of 16 day care center opening projects were suspended or postponed due to complaints, according to the survey.
The survey finding shows construction and operation of day care centers has become more difficult year by year.
Conducted in November and December last year, the survey involved a total of 150 local bodies, including ordinance designated cities, prefectural capitals and Tokyo’s 23 wards — where there are high demands for day care centers — as well as municipalities with at least 50 children on waiting lists for admission to nursery schools as of April 1st last year.
A total of 146 local governments responded to the survey.
In the five years from fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2016, 109 local bodies said they received complaints about certified childcare facilities (see ) or childcare centers, including those in the planning stages of construction.
Of the 109 local governments, 43 provided figures for each of the five years. The total number of complaints these local governments received was on a steady uptrend, with 37 in fiscal 2012, 88 in fiscal 2015, and 89 as of December in fiscal 2016, according to the survey.
Combined with other local governments that provided numbers only for certain years, the total number of complaints given to 62 bodies surged to 132 in fiscal 2016, up from 37 in fiscal 2012.
When asked what complaints they received, the most common response was “Children’s voices heard from the nursery school’s play area, or a room with open windows, are noisy.”
Other common complaints were about “the sounds of practice to prepare for an athletic meet” and “piano and drum sounds.”
Regarding how they handled such complaints, the highest number — 55 local governments — said they “increased opportunities to have dialogue and exchanges with local residents and facilities.”
Meanwhile, 44 said they “gave advice to children and their parents,” and 33 said they “cut the time that children play outdoors,” which indicated that day care centers were forced to voluntarily take some measures by themselves.
Projects to open a total of 10 day care centers were postponed in areas such as Chuo Ward, Tokyo, and Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, due to opposition from local residents who complained that children’s voices are too noisy, and that their home environments would deteriorate.
Six day care center projects were halted in Hachioji, Tokyo, and Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, among other locations.
The government announced its “acceleration plan to reduce the number of children on waiting lists” in 2013.
The government has set a goal of reducing the number of children on the waiting list to zero by the end of March 2018.
Capacity increased by more than 100,000 nationwide as of April 2016 compared from the previous year, and the number of facilities increased by more than 2,000.
The growing number of complaints about the noise is likely related to the increase in the number of nursery schools being constructed.
“Social bonds in local areas are loosening as a result of urbanization, weakening ties. As a result, I think an increasing number of people feel the voices of children are the noise of ‘strangers,’” said Chiba University Prof. Isami Kinoshita, who is well-versed in day care centers and town planning. “We need to create a system in which administators, operators and residents can meet and solve these problems.”
Certified childcare facility A facility that combines the functions of a day care center with a kindergarten, and accepts children from age 0 to preschoolers. The government institutionalized the system in 2006. There were about 4,000 facilities nationwide as of April 2016.Speech