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Helen Popkin
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msnbc.com
updated 8/17/2010 8:19:05 PM ET 2010-08-18T00:19:05

The 47,000 U.S. military personnel stationed on bases in Japan aren't always popular with the locals. "Noise, disruption and base-related crime," are three common complaints, and now there’s one more: Babies.

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Okay, not babies exactly, but rather baby monitors used by U.S. military families. They're disrupting taxi service communications near bases in Okinawa, Tokyo, Kanagawa and other areas, the BBC reports.

The disruptive baby babbling is no small concern. According to the Japanese internal affairs and communications ministry, the U.S.-purchased devices operate on the same frequencies used by cell phones as well as radio communications. As unlicensed devices operating on regulated frequencies, they're illegal in that country. The ministry is concerned that crossed signals could affect emergency services communications.

"Our ministry is asking the U.S. military for permission to visit the families who are illegally emitting these frequencies and personally ask them to avoid using the baby monitors," a ministry official told AFP news agency.

While it's not clear whether the U.S. military will allow the ministry to start knocking on doors, a U.S. official says that the military discourages U.S. baby monitors by personnel stationed in Japan.

An emergency system meltdown isn't a far flung idea, considering that baby monitors are little more than FM transmitters operating on fixed signals. Here on the U.S., there are plenty of odd or amusing tales about baby monitors picking up neighboring baby monitors and cell phone conversations — one video baby monitor even picked up NASA transmissions.

All the kids are doin' it! Follow Helen A.S. Popkin on Twitter, or just friend her on Facebook. What are ya, chicken?

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