"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 331, April 29, 2001
World War II - Japanese Stations in China
On this occasion we take a look at the radio scene in mainland China during the era of the Pacific War. However, in order to understand the radio events, we go back in history for more than a century to view the political events in the region.
There had been a series of wars and skirmishes involving Japan, Russia and China beginning way back in 1894, and over a period of time Japan occupied several major areas of the mainland, including Korea, Manchuria and the province of Jehol. In the year 1937, Japanese forces invaded the coastal areas of China and occupied many major cities.
As the Japanese forces took over these coastal areas, the Chinese disassembled their major radio stations and moved them inland to new locations. During this era of national confusion and turmoil, the same confusion was evident in the radio scene.
When a station moved, it generally took its callsign with it, and this was then reapplied to the same station in a new location. On several occasions two or more stations were consolidated at a new location, with a haphazard usage of callsigns, both old and new. Then again, after a period of time, an established station might abandon its regular callsign and simply take on a new one. Thus, during the era of the war in the Pacific and Asia, it became extremely difficult to know just what stations were on the air at what locations
On the shortwave scene, three major stations in three major cities were heard quite widely during the Pacific War. The Japanese established their own shortwave station in Peking, and this was first noted at a low level in New Zealand in January 1940 with a Chinese callsign, XGAP.
The power of this new shortwave station was just 10 kw, though the mediumwave station was rated at more than 100 kw. After the war, this station adopted a new callsign, XRRA.
The Japanese invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941, and a few days later this British colony surrendered. The 3 kw shortwave transmitter in Hong Kong had been on the air since 1936 under the callsign ZBW, and it was shortly afterwards reactivated under a new callsign, JTHK. It could be presumed that the callsign "JTHK" stood for "Japanese Territory of Hong Kong".
This station went through another set of callsign changes, and in May 1942 it identified as JZHA, and a few weeks later again as JQHA. After the war was over, this small shortwave transmitter reverted to its pre-war British callsign, ZBW.
This old, old transmitter came into service again some forty years later with weather related news for the boat races from Hong Kong to the Philippines. QSL cards were issued in earlier years for the ZBW callsign and in more recent time for the weather broadcasts.
Next we come to Macau, the Portuguese colony in China just across the wide estuary from Hong Kong. Back in 1934, a low powered 500 watt shortwave transmitter was installed in Macau under the callsign CQN, and it was on the air for just one evening a week with program broadcasting.
In 1938 CQN became CRY9, and towards the end of the year 1941, CRY9 became CR8AA. No explanation was ever given for these callsign changes. The prefix CR8 in the call CR8AA in Chinese Macau really belonged to Goa, the small Portuguese colony in India.
The Portuguese colony of Macau on coastal China was never occupied by the Japanese during the Pacific War due to the fact that the mother country, Portugal, remained neutral throughout World War II. Macau was the only European colony in the Far East that was not occupied by Japan during the conflict in Asia and the Pacific.
Shortwave station CR8AA remained on the air periodically throughout the war, and it retained its callsign throughout this era.