Japanese Occupation Radio – Indonesia

This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio in August 2001, and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on radiodx.com for a period of five years from February 2002. Author: Adrian Peterson

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 callisgns 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 onward relayed 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 announcec 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 mimicing 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 hgh powered shortwave transmitters that were on the air during the occupation years. It would appear that these units did not survive the war.

The Radio Scene in Indonesia

Time Lines – Political

Year Date Event
1937 Japan invaded China
1941 Dec 7 Pearl Harbor
1942 Jan 11 Japanese forces landed in Indonesia
1942 March 7 Japan occupied Indonesia
1945 Aug 17 Nationalists declared independence for Indonesia

Japanese Stations in Indonesia


Unit Reference
DEI – Indonesia
Bandoeng less than 100 miles from Batavia-Jakarta
Dutch surrender, Japanese take over radio stations 18-3-42; R&H 77.14 1-57 98
Indonesia WW2 Japanese 1st heard in Melbourne, May 1942; Meo 84.133 35
Batavia broadcast last POW info 26-7-45; Meo 164
No high powered 80 kW or 50 kW stations in Indonesia in 1947; WRHB 1947

DEI – Early Wireless
1913 Two local spark stations on air with irregular callisigns; YBWTT 1913 192
1921 monster Telefunken arc under construction Java 3.5 MW; YBWTT 82.7 44
1923 1st contact between Holland Java Assen & Malabar; 82.7 YBWTT 9
Official opening May 5, 1923 delayed lightning strike Malabar; 82.7 YBWTT 14

DEI – Early Radio Broadcasting
Soerabaya 1925 club station 90 m; 1926 WRHB
1927 Java SW ANE ANF ANH; 1928 WRHB
JFC Soerabaya; 1928 WRHB
YDB Sourabaya, YDC & PMH Bandoeng; R&H 79.11 4-39 50

Pre-War – Batavia & Bandoeng
PLE PLF SW Bandoeng; 1929 WRHB
PLE weekly music broadcasts 15.93; 79.1 WW 13-6-30 19
Round the world relay Jun 30 1930; RA Thesis 621
PLE 15.3 PLW 38 & PMB Bandoeng 30-6-30 1st world relay; LI 79.23 5-7-30 42
PLE & PMP carry relay from London 21-1-30; A&NZ 77.5 NZRAHB 1931 20 11
PMY heard in 1931; LI 79.23 20-6-31 52
PMB PLE PMC PLM PLW all 80 kW and all Bandoeng; LI 79.23 15-8-31 50
PMB 14.55 PLE 15.93 PMC 16.33 PLM 24.4 PLW 36.9; LI 79.23 15-8-31 50
PLE Bandoeng with broadcasts Tuesdays only, QSL letter; LI 79.23 15-8-31 50
Round the world relay April 2, 1932; RA Thesis 621
PLV 80 kW Bandoeng; LI 79.23 6-7-35 64
PMA PLE PMC all 40 kW Bandoeng; LI 79.23 6-7-35 64
PLP PMN 2 kW Bandoeng; LI 79.23 6-7-35 64
YDB Sourabaya, YDC & PMH Bandoeng; R&H 79.11 4-39 50
Bandoeng 15150 19.81 m closed March 7 1942: “This is Radio Bandoeng closing down. God save the Queen. Goodbye everyone until better times come.”; ARW 77.8 4-42 23

ABC Batavia – Bandoeng
ABC 15950 is Bandoeng 80 kW copy RA; Green Book 86 4-42
ABC Batavia now 50 kW copy RA; Green Book 86 4-42
ABC DEI 19 m, Japanese control?; R&H 79.12 6-42 46
ABC Batavia 18245 16.45 very strong signal, English; ARW 77.8 7-42 22
ABC Batavia 16.45 16.54 19.9; 77.8 ARW 7-42 22
ABC Batavia 16.45 16.54 & 19.9; ARW 77.8 7-42 23
XBC (?) Batavia; R&H 7-42 47
ABC Batavia 18 & 19 m; R&H 79.12 7-42 48
ABC 18007 16.56 Batavia; R&H 79.12 9-42 49
ABC 18007 16.56 Batavia news & POW info; R&H 79.12 10-42 49
Batavia 18007 16.56 POW news; R&H 79.12 11-42 46
PMC 18007 16.56 Batavia news & POW info; R&H 79.12 12-42 49
ABC 18007 16.56 Batavia; R&H 79.12 12-42 49
PMC Jacutta; 77.8 ARW 2-43
ABC Bandoeng 24.44 heard at 11:15 pm; LI 79.24 27-4-46

JBC Batavia
JBC = ABC = PMC 18007 kHz 16.60 m
JBC Batavia 18007 16.60 heard by many; R&H 79.12 7-42 47
JBC 18007 16.60 Batavia; R&H 79.12 7-42 50
JBC 18007 16.60 Batavia good strength; R&H 79.12 8-42 49
JBC 18135 JFAK 12270 Batavia with POW info; ATCRLG 7

Batavia began broadcasts to Australia, May 1942; Meo 35
POW news from Batavia; 79.12 R&H 11-42 46
Batavia 16.54 good signal DEI; R&H 79.12 11-42 47
Batavia heard well; R&H 79.12 12-42 47
PMC 18135 Batavia good strength; R&H 79.12 1-43 47
PMC 18135 16.54 Batavia good strength news & POW info; R&H 79.12 1-43 49
Batavia 18135 very good signal; R&H 79.12 2-43 43
Radio Batavia short of Victrola needles, asking Tokyo to send; Meo 35
Batavia asked Tokyo if 18 appointees had left Tokyo; Meo 36
Batavia now Jarcutta; R&H 79.12 2-43 43
PMC 18135 Jacutta Radio; ARW 77.8 2-43 24
Jacutta Radio 18135 16.54 final listing (not final broadcast); R&H 79.12 3-43 43
JBC 18135 JFAK 12270 Batavia with POW info; ATCRLG 7
Batavia sent last message May 31, 1945; Meo 164
WRHB 1947 Batavia YDD 3 kW & PLB 3 kW
Bandoeng PLC 3 kW & PMB 3 kW
Surabaya YDI 3 kW

Voice of Batavia
VOB 8846 31.92 new station, Japanese control Liberty Bell; R&H 79.12 6-42 47
Voice of Batavia 31.92 m Liberty Bell; ARW 77.8 6-42 21
Voice of Batavia Batavia 8846 31.92; R&H 79.12 6-42 50
Voice of Batavia 8846 31.92 closing with Liberty Bell March; ARW 77.8 7-42 23
Voice of Batavia 8846 31.92 with Liberty Bell; R&H 79.12 8-42 49
Voice of Batavia 8846 31.92 final entry (not last broadcast); R&H 79.12 2-43 45

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