Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, April 2014: Radio Japan

1. Radio Japan

A radio equipped to receive domestic shortwave radio service does not have a wide enough shortwave band (usually between 3.9 MHz to 12 MHz) and is not adequate to receive RADIO JAPAN,

according to the how-to-listen page on the NHK World (Radio Japan Online) website.

It depends, though. Radio Japan’s broadcasts in Chinese on 9,540 kHz (9.54 MHz), daily at 15:30 UTC have, arrived in moderate or good quality recently. They certainly did every time I listened in April – on nine different days, that is. It’s a signal that travels across seven time zones, on a shortwave band that counts as the most heavily used one.

"Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa" - Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

“Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa” – Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

Reception of the station’s signals directly from Japan was much more difficult in the 1980s, and maybe the remarks about the inadequacy of bands around and below above 25 meters were made back then, and copied into the website later on. In the 1980s, the Cold War was still alive on shortwave. The overkill was never applied in nuclear terms, but it was exercised on shortwave. Monster transmitters of 1,000 kW were most probably first introduced in the USSR, and the Soviet network of “normal” shortwave transmitters, too, was globally unrivaled. The gaps Radio Moscow did leave on shortwave were filled by the Voice of America (VoA), the BBC World Service, Radio Peking (the former name of what is now China Radio International / CRI), and with Germany’s Deutsche Welle “only faintly beeping in a few places” on the radio dial, as Der Spiegel put it in 1984.

Radio Japan wouldn’t even faintly beep in northern or central Europe – or when they did, that would be a very, very special day. Unless when the signal came from Moyabi, Gabon, where the Japanese broadcaster began using a relay transmitter in 1982 or 1983.

Soviet radio megalomania wasn’t the only thing to blame for the rarity of a noticeable direct signal from Japan to Europe.  There were home-made difficulties, too. The shortwave transmission sites were run by KDD (nor merged into KDDI), rather than by NHK or Radio Japan itself, and the  telecommunications corporation’s decisions were chronically ill-founded, according to German journalist and shortwave listener Hermann Jäger (1921 – 1993), who noted in 1987 that the station’s morning broadcasts in German had been fairly audible in the late 1970s, but not after that, and that with few exceptions, the evening broadcasts had been inaudible for many years. Jäger blamed incomprehensible frequency choices:

When a broadcaster in Japan, with 100 or maybe 200 kW at best, chooses a frequency on or right next to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty‘s from Munich, it won’t work. The [Soviet] jamming stations alone will “make sure” about that.

6070 kHz for another broadcast in German was no good try either: Radio Sofia from Bulgaria blew everything away.

Hermann Jäger wrote his article in 1987, on the 50th anniversary of Radio Japan’s German service*). Another issue he raised was that only earlier that year, in 1987, transmitters of more than 100 or 200 kW had been taken into operation. Until then, Radio Japan had continued working as if the bands were as “empty” as in 1937, 1955 1950, or maybe in 1955.

That has changed. The bands have emptied a lot during the past twenty years. In fact, Japan appears to be one of the rather few OECD countries which haven’t abandoned shortwave as a means of propaganda, public diplomacy, or information. Radio Japan broadcasts on much “emptier” shortwave bands these days, powered with up to 300 kW from Japan, and 500 kW from a French relay station.

Since March 30, Radio Japan has also added broadcasts in Japanese to eastern Europe, on shortwave frequencies, from relay stations in the UK, the UAE, and directly from Japan – see Japan/UAE/U.K. Additional broadcasts of Radio Japan here. The broadcasts have apparently been added for Japanese citizens in eastern Europe.

_____

*) According to Wikipedia (zh) and Chinese online encyclopedia baike.com, Radio Japan started broadcasts in Chinese in 1937, too. According to zh.wikipedia.org, it was August 23, 1937. On NHK’s website, I didn’t find a specific date. The Chinese programs are mentioned on NHK’s English website, as a caption to a picture of program schedules in 1940 – third photo from top.

2. Recent Logs (from/after March 29)

[Update/correction: two sentences deleted – part of March 2014 log]

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South AFrica; ARG – Argentina; CLN – Sri Lanka; D – Germany; IND – India; IRN – Iran; J – Japan; OMA – Oman; SNG – Singapore.

Languages (“L.”):
Be – Bengali; C – Chinese; Ca – Cambodian; E – English; G – German; Pa – Pashto.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15140 Radio
Oman
 OMA E Apr
3
14:47 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Japan
 J C Apr
3
15:30 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Australia
 SNG E Apr
3
16:00 4 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:00 4 5 4
  4880 SW1)
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:30 3 4 3
  9780 VoA/
Deewa
 CLN Pa Apr
5
18:04 4 5 3
  9485 MV Baltic
Radio2)
 D G Apr
6
09:00 5 5 5
  7550 AIR
Delhi
 IND E Apr
73)
18:27 5 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
83)
17:00 5 5 5
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
8
21:00 3 3 3
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
11
02:08 2 5 3
  3995 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:00 4 4 3
  7365 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:17 3 3 3
17820 IRIB
Tehran
 IRN E Apr
12
10:23 4 5 4
17860 Vo Khmer
M’Chas
Srok
 4) Ca Apr
12
11:30 4 5 4
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
18
21:07 4 2 2
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
25
02:55 5 5 5
  5980 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
25
03:05 5 5 5
  9540 BBC
World
Service
 SNG Be Apr
28
16:30 5 5 4

____________

Footnotes

1) A Zimbabwean opposition broadcaster, via Meyerton, South Africa
2) Some delay at the beginning of broadcast
3) Receiver used: Silver XF-900 Spacemaster, built-in antenna. Sony ICF-2001D when not otherwise noted.
4) short-wave.info says that the transmitter’s location is Tajikistan. The organization airing the broadcasts opposes Cambodia’s Hun Sen government and what it views as Vietnamese attempts to create an Indochina Federation, with Cambodia and Laos under Hanoi’s rule.

____________

Related

» NHK International BC history, NHK
» NHK国际广播发展历程, NHK
» 日本国际广播电台, baike.com
» Gelebte Zeitgeschichte, book review, 2004
____________

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