Japanese Occupation Radio – Vietnam

This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio in May 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 May 1 2001. Author: Adrian Peterson

Japanese Stations During World War 2 – Vietnam

The first wireless transmitter destined for installation in Vietnam became a non-event. It was a French made 150 kW spark transmitter which was orginally intended for installation in Saigon for communication with ships, and during the hours of darkness with station FL on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However, at the time, World War 1 was brewing in Europe and instead the transmitter was diverted for installation in Lyons where it carried communication traffic under the callsign YN.

The first wireless stations in Vietnam were erected around 1920 by the French as communication facilities and they were located in Hanoi, Saigon and several regional cities. The allocated callsigns for these units all began with the letter F. A powerful 500 kW spark wireless station was erected in Saigon in 1925, with eight towers standing nearly 500 ft tall. This unit was given the call HZA

Soon afterwards, a 9 kW valve transmitter was installed at this location under the callsign FZS. At times, this station also carried program broadcasting which was heard in Australia, New Zealand and occasionally in the United States.

QSL Credit: Jim Pogue

Another shortwave station was erected at Chi-Hoa on the edge of Saigon by the French in 1930 specifically as a broadcasting station. Less than two years later, this station, “Radio Saigon” left the air due to financial constraints.

At the beginning of 1939, the facility was re-located to Phu-Tho and re-activated on April 1. Note the rather strange identification announcement in English from this station: “This is a special broadcast for the United States. We do not expect that many listeners in that country will hear our transmissions, but we would appreciate reports to be addressed to PO Box 412, Saigon.”

This station was heard with identification announcments as Radio Saigon and Philco Radio, and signal strength on several channels was reported in Australia as being excellent. The transmitter was a French unit rated then at 10 kW. Another French transmitter at the same power rating was installed shortly afterwards.

Around this era, there were also two other shortwave stations on the air in Saigon and these identified as Radio Boy Landry and Radio Volante. Hanoi was also on the air from its communication station as Radio Hanoi.

It was at this stage that the political scene changed. In June 1940 over in Europe, France surrendered to the German army and Japan claimed French Indo-China, including the territory we now know as Vietnam. The Japanese army invaded Vietnam on September 22, 1940 and immediately took over the administration of the shortwave station “Radio Saigon”.

QSL Credit : Jim Pogue

Two years later, in October 1942, Radio Saigon began to include POW news in its broadcasts and these reports were closely followed by government authorities in Melbourne Australia, and also by the legendary Arthur Cushen in New Zealand. Arthur noted that Radio Saigon was heard throughout this period of two and a half years with generally a good signal on 11770 kHz.

In addition to their own locally produced programming, Radio Saigon also carried a relay from Radio Tokio, taken off air shortwave. On one occasion, Radio Saigon was heard calling Tokio and asking for hints on how to produce broadcasts directed to Australia.

On March 10, 1945, Japanese personnel themselves took over the station, and they dropped POW broadcasts at the end of the following month. Some six months later, the Japanese administration installed Viet Minh personnel in Radio Saigon, who hastily abandoned the station when the British army arrived shortly afterwards.

After the declaration of peace in the Pacific and Asia, Radio Saigon again resumed its role as a French radio station on September 26, 1945. However, a few months later, on April 8 in the following year, there was a massive explosion at the ammunition dump just opposite the studios of Radio Saigon, and the facility was completely destroyed. Studio operations were transferred to a private house though the transmitter installation out of town was not affected.

The whole facility was upgraded soon afterwards and it was on the air shortwave as Radio Saigon and Radio France Asie. The first issue of the World Radio Handbook in 1947 informs us that the station was on the air immediately after the war with two shortwave transmitters at 12 kW, the same two units that were in use before the Pacific-Asia War.

Late one night in my childhood home in a country area of South Australia, I happened to hear Radio Saigon on mediumwave, the first DX report of this revived station. This highly prized QSL card was my first from South East Asia.

The Radio Scene in Vietnam

Time Line

Year Date Event
1913 Plans for 500 kW spark transmitter in Saigon, diverted to Lyons
1920 Wireless transmitters installed several locations callis in F series
1925 500 kW HZA installed at Phu-Tho near Saigon
9 kW valve transmitter co-sited with HZA
1928 HVA Hanoi on air occasionally with program broadcasting
1930 Jul 18 First official broadcast from new Radio Saigon 12 kW at Chi-Hoa
1932 Apr 30 Radio Saigon closed financial constraints
1939 Apr 1 Radio Saigon revived from new ltransmitter location at Phu-Tho
1939 Sep Government took over Radio Saigon
1940 Jun France surrenders, Radio Saigon now as voice to French Empire
1940 Sep Japanese take over administration of Radio Saigon
1942 Oct 1st broadcast of POW info
1945 Mar 10 Japanese personnel take over operation of Radio Saigon
1945 Apr 31 Last broadcast containing POW news
1945 Sep Radio Saigon handed over to Viet Minh
1945 Sep Radio Saigon taken over by British
1945 Sep 26 Radio Saigon re-launched as French station
1945 Hanoi on air as The Vocie fo Vietnam
1946 Apr 8 Explosion destroys studio facilities of Radio Saigon
1947 Transmitters in use, 2 @ 12 kW
1947 Radio Saigon relayed by FZS for coverage into France
1947 Radio France 1 kW on air from Hanoi
1947 Jun 21 Radio Saigon MW 1.5 kW 1050 heard by AMP as 1st DX report

The Radio Scene in Vietnam


1937 Japan invaded China
1940 Jun Germany defeated France, Japan claimed Vietnam
1940 Sep 22 Japan invaded Vietnam
1941 Dec 7 Pearl Harbor
1945 Mar 9 Japanese assume full control in Vietnam
1945 Aug Japan relinquished control of Vietnam
1945 Aug 14 Japan accepted surrender terms
1945 Sep 12 Japanese forces surrendered in South East Asia

Radio in Vietnam – Pre-War
Saigon Radio; RA161
Wireless telegraphy list; YBWTT 82.7 550
Saigon high powered station; YBWTT 82.7 1924 14
Hanoi 1928; WW 77.1 5
Station Profile; LI 79.23 13-12-30 66
FZS Saigon 9 kW; LI 79.23 29-8-31 57
Radio Philco 11770; R&H 77.10 4-39 50
Radio Saigon off air for financial reasons, on again; R&H 5-39 53
Three outlets, Radio Philco, Radio Saigon, and Saigon; R&H 79.11 5-39 58
Radio Boy Landry 9675; R&H 79.11 9-39 56
Radio Hanoi 11910; R&H 79.11 9-39 56
List of stations, Boy Landry & Volante; ARW 77.8 1-1-40

Radio in Vietnam – Japanese Occupation
Radio Saigon; ARW 77.8 12-40
1st heard in Melbourne Oct 1942; Meo 35
POW news; R&H 79.12 11-42 46
Saigon on 11775; ATC TLG 61
Saigon asking Tokyo for hints on broadcasting; Meo 35
Last POW message 31-4-45; Meo 164
Japan’s Radio War on Australia; 35

Radio in Vietnam – After WW2
Radio Saigon QSL card; NASWA CPRV
Vietnam Hanoi; ARW 77.8 1-46
French Indo China Saigon 2 @ 12 kW; WRTVHB 1947
Station Profile from American announcer; RN 2-47 64
Radio France Asie; R&H 79.13 10-47 76
Station destroyed at end of war; RN 6-48 70
Saigon new station; R&H 77.13 7-48 84
Modernization in Saigon; R&H 77.14 8-48 84
Radio France Aise; ARW 77.8 9-50
Radio France Asie closing; R&H 4-56 112
AFRTS Vietnam; PC 3-90 18
North Vietnam – So’n Tay, 30 KM NW Hanoi
2 @ 100 kW for foreign service
9 lower powered for internal coverage
North Vietnam – Me Tri, 5 KM SW Hanoi
1 @ 50 kW 7285 0000 – 0100 & 1100 – 1600

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