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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, March 27, 2011

Tribute to Japan

The entire population of planet Earth stands amazed and overwhelmed at the magnitude and intensity of the onward parade of recent tragic events that have occurred in Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific and now Asia in recent weeks. No sooner does a major event in one part of the world capture the avid interest of the international news media, and then quite quickly this is followed by another major event in another part of the world, all of which together stagger the imagination of sympathetic TV news viewers. We have seen political turmoil in several countries of North Africa, with the latest embellishments of warfare in Libya. In the meantime, continued political and national unrest takes place in several other countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

We observed the tragic and lengthy flooding that took place all along the eastern coast of Australia, followed by the intense pounding of Cyclone Yasi, the double combination that has been described as the worst natural disaster in the history of Australia. The winds of strife over Australia had hardly faded away when suddenly the worst natural disaster in the history of New Zealand felled the garden city of Christchurch on the east coast of the south island.

As the world in general with its spontaneous offers of aid to this stricken country in the South Pacific were striving to cope with the disastrous events "down under", suddenly a more intense event occurred in Japan, an event that overwhelms the emotions of news viewers as we watch the tragedies unfold before our awe-stricken eyes. A tidal wave of destruction, 30 ft. high, penetrated six miles inland destroying everything in its pathway, washing away entire towns.

The deadly Japan earthquake, registered at a hefty 9.0 on the Richter scale, with its follow-on even more deadly tsunami, killed multi-thousands of unfortunate citizens, with an even higher number of people unaccounted for, just simply listed as missing. This event, with its subsequent impending disaster of a possible nuclear meltdown with its resultant hazards of widespread radiation, and an equal impact of worldwide financial instability, has begotten the question: Where will all these things end?

So great has been the sequence of tragic event followed by tragic event, that the news media and government leaders in the United States are describing these massive circumstances in general, and the Japan earthquake in particular, in Biblical terminology. Anderson Cooper on CNN described what he saw in Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami as "Armageddon"; and with all of the other major events in other areas on planet Earth, he stated on another occasion, that "the world is falling apart around us".

Candy Crowley, also on CNN, similarly described the demolition in Japan as a "destruction that looks like Armageddon". Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Minority Leader in the United States, went even further, and she stated that the Japan earthquake was "beyond Biblical" proportions.

Immediately following the earthquake off the coast of Japan, the media scene in that country changed dramatically. In fact, just one minute before the seismic wave rocked Tokyo, NHK TV gave out a warning, stating that the shock is coming, and that a tsunami is on its way. A running commentary with updated information provided by NHK has been available 24 hours daily in several different languages via the internet.

At the time of the earthquake impact, there was a radio DXpedition underway on the lonely island of Masset, just off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. On his return to his home in Victoria on larger Vancouver Island, Walter Salmaniw reported that he had tuned in to the massive mediumwave radio station JOAB with 500 kW on 693 kHz in Tokyo. At the time he was listening, their regular programming was suspended and replaced by a continuous tape loop in several languages advising listeners of the impending tsunami.

All radio and TV media throughout Japan that escaped the inevitable destruction immediately went into some form of emergency programming, local and national. Three hours later, four million homes in the Tokyo suburban areas were without electrical power, and listeners became dependent upon battery powered and wind-up radios for the reception of important emergency programming and information.

Soon afterwards, residents and travelers in Japan were asked not to use the regular telephone systems for non-emergency calls, due to the overloading of circuits in undamaged areas and the destruction of equipment in damaged areas. The northern city of Sendai, and nearby coastal areas, received the brunt of the seismic shock wave and the resultant massive tsunami that totally wiped out several complete towns.

In response, amateur radio proved of real value for important and family communication. Several amateur radio operators moved their equipment into evacuation centers and they carried relief information and personal messages on behalf of the more than half million now homeless people.

Special radio channels in the 5 and 6 MHz band have been noted with emergency radio communications in Japanese and English, and several amateur radio nets have been similarly activated. Three car factories, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, suspended all manufacturing operations, as did the electronics giant Sony.

Food shortages are noted around the country, with many shops declaring a complete sellout. Likewise, all forms of small batteries were in high demand. In addition, cold and wet weather, with falling snow, has compounded relief efforts and the rescue of trapped survivors.

This massive Japan earthquake struck at 2:46 pm local time, on Friday, March 11. The epicenter was located 80 miles east of Sendai on Honshu Island, at a depth of 20 miles. This seismic event caused a rupture in the ocean floor 217 miles long and 50 miles wide. This underwater geographic event of cosmic proportions moved Japan up to 13 feet closer to the United States, and it shifted the axis of the Earth by about 6-1/2 inches. Two volcanoes exploded, the well known Mt. Fuji and the lesser known Mt. Shinmoedake in southern Japan. When Shinmoedake exploded, the blast shattered windows 4 miles distant.

In a return email message, the noted international radio monitor in Japan, Toshi Ohtake, states that he, his loved ones, and the staff of their radio magazine are all accounted for. He also states that rolling power blackouts have compounded the already difficult situation in the Tokyo area, and that railroad travel has been difficult, stranding untold thousands of people.

We should mention also that in recent time, we have processed several hundred reception reports from listeners in Japan and the QSL cards have been sent through the postal system. However, we are still holding somewhere around 300 reception reports not yet processed. We will begin again the processing of these pending reports when the situation in Japan settles down a little.

We here at Adventist World Radio and shortwave WRMI, and our DX program "Wavescan", offer our sympathies to all of the affected citizens in Japan, and in all of the many countries who have been affected by these recent monstrous events and are attempting to cope with the untoward realities in their own areas.