Noise irritates, but kids loiter anyway

TOKYO — A novel attempt to discourage rowdy youths from loitering in a Tokyo park created quite a buzz — literally — but will be stopped because it proved less effective than having security guards patrol the park.

Last May, the Adachi Ward Office installed a device that emits a high-frequency sound audible only to young people in a park that had been regularly vandalized. The noise, similar to the hum made by mosquitoes, was expected to irritate troublemakers hanging out at Kitashikahama Park late at night and force them to go elsewhere.

The ward installed the device on the wall of the park's management office and put it into operation between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

But just a month after the machine was installed, a women's toilet in the park was vandalized.

The ward government started stationing security guards in the park in July. Since then, the number of youths hanging around in the park late at night has fallen drastically.

"The declining number of loiterers was largely due to efforts by the security guards, not the mosquito sound," an Adachi Ward official admitted.

The ward will turn off the high-pitched sound in April.

Young loiterers caused 3 million yen worth ($33,613) of damage to toilets and other facilities in the ward's parks in fiscal 2008, according to the ward office.

The ward planned to install the device in other parks if it had proved effective. This now seems unlikely.