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Japan AM Radio Dial 1941

During 1941, Japanese radio audiences had almost 50 local AM radio stations they could listen to for a large part of each broadcasting day.

Since broadcasting officially began in 1925, the original Tokyo Broadcasting Station [JOAK] had been renamed Nippon Hoso Kyokai and by the end of that decade, had created a sophisticated network of landline connected stations across the main islands.
image of the JOAK broadcasting building

JOAK broadcast from this substantial transmission building near Tokyo.
© Radio Heritage Foundation Collection


In 1931, a second network had already been completed in the three main centers of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Expansion of the network continued in the rest of the decade that followed, not only in Japan itself, but also in occupied territories such as Formosa [Taiwan], Korea, and Manchuria where sometimes quite powerful stations were built.

On the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii [December 7 1941], the broadcasting network had extended further to include occupied French Indo-China, and General Tojo Hideki had become Japanese premier a few weeks earlier.

image of Tokyo street scene of mid-1930's

Tokyo street scene of mid-1930's .
© Dollar Steamship Lines,
National Geographic Magazine December 1936,
Radio Heritage Foundation Collection

Rapid urbanization of the mainland Japanese population was also taking place during this period of the 1930's, with almost 40% of the 73.1 million people living in towns and cities by 1940.

The largest urban areas were Tokyo [6.8m], Osaka [3.3m] and Nagoya [1.3m] and each was served by NHK-1 and NHK-2 network stations.

Programs by now were increasingly reflecting the militarist policies of the Japanese government, but audiences still enjoyed a wide range of Japanese and classical Western music, educational programs including English language lessons, physical exercises, and tips for growing vegetables in the cities.
image of JOAK QSL

This listener card was sent by JOAK to New Zealand some years earlier. It lists the NHK network and program details for foreign listeners.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Until very recently, Japan had also been avidly promoting itself to Americans as a vacation destination 'More for your dollars….thanks to the yen' headlining this half-page advertisement in the Christmas 1936 issue of the National Geographic Magazine.
image of Japan Travel Bureau advert 1936

Japan Travel Bureau advert 1936.
© National Geographic Magazine, December 1936, Radio Heritage Foundation Collection


Listeners around the Pacific region who couldn't visit Japan, could easily hear broadcasts of the two most powerful stations, JOAK-1 on 590 AM and JOAK-2 on 870 AM both broadcasting from modern studios in the heart of the bustling capital city of Tokyo.

Here is our exclusive look at the Japan Radio Dial 1941, the stations that Japanese audiences were listening to on the eve of war.

Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
570 JOCP Koriyama 0.5
590 JOAK-1 Tokyo 150
600 JOMG Miyazaki 0.5
610 JOJK Kanazawa 3
630 JOKK Okayama 0.5
650 JOUK Akita 0.3

image of Japan Travel Bureau advert 1936

This selection of Japanese transmitting station images includes JOTK Matsue in the top left hand corner.
© Radio Heritage Foundation Collection


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
670 JOTK Matsue 0.5
680 JOVK Hakodate 0.5
690 JOBK-1 Osaka 10
700 JOCG Asahigawa 0.3
700 JOIP Oita 0.5
720 JORK Kochi 0.5
730 JOCK-1 Nagoya 10
740 JOSK Kokura 1

image of JOHK QSL

JOHK Sendai Hosokyoku 'Sendai Broadcasting Station' issued this plain card to its listeners in the 1930's.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
770 JOHK Sendai 10
780 JOPK Shizuoka 0.5
790 JOGK Kumamoto 10
800 JOKG Kofu 0.5
810 JOIK Sapporo 10
820 JOFP Fukushima 0.5

image of JOTK QSL

"The dramatic story by a lady was broadcast at that time"
JOFK Hiroshima confirmed reception of its program to a New Zealand listener.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
830 JOFK Hiroshima 10
840 JORG Hirosaki 0.3
860 JODP Onomichi 0.5
860 JOUG Bofu 0.5
870 JOAK-2 Tokyo 150

image of JOAK QSL

JOAK-2 Tokyo 870 AM issued this listener card for South Pacific reception in the 1930's.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
880 JOQG Morioka 0.5
890 JOLG Tottori 0.5
910 JOLK Fukuoka 0.5
920 JOQK Niigata 0.5
930 JOAG Nagasaki 0.5
940 JOBK-2 Osaka 10
950 JOOG Obihiro 0.5
950 JOVG Matsuyama 0.5

image of JOXK QSL

A gilt edged listener card sent by JOXK Tokushima, Tokushima Hosokyoku.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
980 JOXK Tokushima 0.5
990 JOCK-2 Nagoya 10
1000 JOAP Naha 1
1000 JOBG Maebashi 0.5
1010 JOPG Kushiro 0.1
1020 JOFG Fukui 0.3
1040 JONK Nagano 0.5

image of JOGK QSL

This montage of photographs of popular Japanese radio programs from the 1930's is on a listener card sent by JOGK Kumamoto .
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Frequency [AM] Call Sign Location Transmitter Power [kW]
1040 JOSG Matsumoto 0.5
1050 JOHG Kagoshima 0.5
1050 JOTG Aomori 0.5
1060 JOIG Toyama 0.5
1070 JOOK Kyoto 0.3
1080 JOJG Yamagata 0.5
1100 JODG Hamamatsu 0.5

image of JORK QSL

The broadcasting facilities of JORK Kochi 720 AM. The reverse of the card includes the exact geographic co-ordinates of the transmitter.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Remarkably, most of this broadcasting infrastructure remained in good condition at the end of hostilities just four years later in 1945.

Under Allied occupation, stations such as JOBK in Osaka were transformed into two networks – one using the same call-sign and broadcasting in Japanese for the local population, and another as a local outlet of the US Armed Forces Radio Service. Japanese and American broadcasters worked alongside each other sharing the same studio facilities.
image of the original JOBK studio building in Osaka

The original JOBK studio building in Osaka showing the new joint signage for both JOBK and WVTQ [Armed Forces Radio Station] shortly after Allied occupation in 1945.
© Frank H Fugman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Within just a few more years, independent state broadcasting was established and Japanese commercial radio stations began to quickly flourish alongside both the new NHK network and a declining number of [now] Far East Network stations for US forces still stationed throughout the islands.

During the decade leading up to 1941, local Japanese AM radio stations carefully responded to listener mail from overseas with often friendly personal letters in English, and a range of listener cards [QSL cards] as used to illustrate this article.
image of advert from N.Y.K [Japan Mail] Line

'A Summer in Japan' advert from N.Y.K [Japan Mail] Line.
© December 1936, National Geographic Magazine, Radio Heritage Foundation Collection


For a broader view of Japanese broadcasting from the 1920's onwards, you'll enjoy our popular Art of Radio Japan © Exhibition which introduces you to many of the beautiful art designs used by the new stations of the 1950's as they began to establish their brand identities for local listeners.

image of JOAK QSL

This colorful radio 'stamp' was issued by JOAK in the early 1930's and used to promote the station to foreign listeners.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

You'll also enjoy AFRS Japan, one of our growing numbers of exclusive AFRS articles. This one looks at the history of AFRS stations in Japan from occupation into the early 1960's and is again well illustrated with items from our collections.

Other related Japanese broadcasting stories now available include personal memories from an American DJ at AFRS Sapporo 'AFRS Sapporo 1949-1953' and another from the founder of KSBK Okinawa in the early 1950's 'KSBK Naha Ryukyu Islands' as well as a review of Radio Tokyo broadcasts 1941-1945 in 'Radio Tokyo at War'.

image of All the Radio Calls of the World 1941 Edition

'All the Radio Calls of the World' 1941 Edition.
© New Zealand DX Radio Association
Radio Heritage Foundation Collection

If you have any memories to share about any kind of broadcasting in Japan, photos, memorabilia, audio or other items you'd like to tell us about, please email us or write to us.

This exclusive listing of the Japan Radio Dial 1941 is extracted from 'All the Radio Calls of the World' 1941 Edition, a publication of the New Zealand DX Radio Association, a listener club that provided this service for its thousands of members.

The information in this feature article is not to be used anywhere in any form without prior permission.

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