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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 372, February 10, 2002

Japanese Stations in Indonesia in WW II

Back in the era before the Pacific War, Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies and Jakarta was Batavia.  It was during this time that the Dutch established a large shortwave facility at Bandoeng, 100 miles from Jakarta. 

The original purpose for this station was for radio communication with Holland, and with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.  The transmitters at this radio facility were rated at 80 kw, 40 kw and 2 kw, and the large antennas were directed towards Europe, Asia, the Pacific and North America.  The callsigns in use at the time were all in the series beginning with PL.

During the developmental era of shortwave broadcasting, the Dutch station at Bandoeng often served as an intermediate relay station, with an onward relay of programming from Europe to Australia and from Australia back to Europe. 

On the occasion of the first round-the-world relay in 1930, international programming was produced in the studios of the General Electric station W2XAB in Schenectady.  The Phillips station PHI in Holland relayed the programming to the Dutch East Indies, where it was relayed onward to Australia and then beamed back to the United States from VK2ME in Sydney.  Three transmitters in Bandoeng participated in this unusual propagation experiment, and they were PLE, PLW and PMB.

With the onward progress of the war in the Pacific and Asia, the Dutch authorities hastily began work on the installation of a new 100 kw shortwave transmitter at a location near Batavia.  However, war movements were very rapid and this project was abandoned before it was completed.

Then on Saturday, March 7, 1942, at the end of their evening broadcast beamed to Australia, the announcer signed off with this statement in English: "This is Radio Bandoeng closing down.  God save the Queen.  Goodbye, everyone, until better times come."  With that, the station left the air.

Eleven days later, on March 18, 1942, the Dutch officially surrendered to the Japanese, and the Japanese began to take over the radio networks throughout the former Dutch East Indies.  The large colonial radio station in Bandoeng was by far the largest radio station operated by the Japanese authorities during the Pacific-Asia War, even larger than their home base at Nazaki in Japan with its three transmitters at 50 kw.

Soon afterwards the shortwave service was revived, with communications beamed to Japan and Germany and with programming beamed towards Australia, New Zealand and India.  With the very high power, as it was in those days, of 40 kw and 80 kw, the signal was always reported as "strong" in Australia and New Zealand.

One of the first new transmissions from the radio station at Bandoeng, as reported in Australia, was noted with the callsign ABC.  Station personnel in Bandoeng recorded off air the tuning signal, station announcements and other significant items from Radio Australia and then wove these segments into their own programming, with the intent of capturing unsuspecting listeners in Australia.

At around this time, the government Listening Post near Melbourne took directional bearings from these transmissions and announced that they were coming from the 80 kw shortwave transmitter located at Bandoeng.  They also stated that the Japanese had just installed a 50 kw transmitter near Batavia, probably at the location where the Dutch had begun preliminary construction work a few months earlier for a 100 kw unit.  However, it is understood that the majority of the shortwave transmissions from the island of Java during this era were from Bandoeng, regardless of the callsigns in use.

Several different callsigns were in use during this era. There was station ABC, mimicking Radio Australia as we just mentioned.  Then there was JBC, which we could guess stood for Japanese Broadcasting Company; and another Japanese callsign, JFAK.  Some broadcasts were identified simply as Radio Batavia, and at one stage they apparently used an earlier callsign, PMC.  The broadcasts on the air as "Radio Batavia" always signed off with the American march, "Liberty Bell."

Around the beginning of the year 1943, the name of the city Batavia was changed to Jakarta, with several variations in spelling.  The final listings in radio magazines of radio broadcasts from these stations was soon afterwards, not because the station left the air, but because of wartime restrictions in Australia and New Zealand.

It is known now that the final Japanese broadcast from the radio station at Bandoeng was on July 26, 1945.  Many months later this station was noted in Australia, again with the callsign ABC. 

The first edition of the World Radio Handbook in 1947 lists all of the shortwave stations on the air in what has since become Indonesia under two series of callsigns, some in the new Y series and some in the old P series.

Not listed anywhere are the high powered shortwave transmitters that were on the air during the occupation years.  It would appear that these units did not survive the war.