AFRS Japan

WLKE letterhead, 1949.
© Keith Robinson Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

When Japan formally surrendered in 1945, several mobile units of the AFRS were reportedly already on Kyushu. These were the same mobile units that had previously broadcast throughout the island hopping campaign from as far south as the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, had then served in the Philippines, and were now on mainland Japan.

Within a day or two of the surrender, Radio Tokyo’s undamaged studios were broadcasting WVTR programs over the former JOAK transmitter, and other WVT callsigns could be heard around Japan over the next few weeks as AFRS stations took over major NHK studio and transmitter facilities.

Callsigns were largely regularized to the WLK series by 1946, the same year in which the ‘Far Eastern Network’ ID was first heard. By 1950, WVTR and the other individual station callsigns were gone, replaced by Far East Network, or FEN.

In the 1950’s, FEN stations came, went, and sometimes came again, as US forces contracted, expanded during the Korean War, then contracted again.

FEN Itazuke Listener Confirmation Card.
© Keith Robinson Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

We’ve carefully researched AFRS stations in Japan from various sources, including FEN materials, but we’re still not completely certain we’ve got them all in our listing!

If you or your relatives have ever been involved with any of them, or you have memorabilia, photos, images, recordings or any other items relating to them, please contact us and help us tell the stories of these long forgotten stations that graced the airwaves some 50 – 60 years ago.

AFRS stations soon became popular with Japanese civilians as well, and FEN continues to broadcast today from various locations as AFN.

RefLocationCall SignOn AirFrequency [AM]
1 Ashiya FEN Kyushu 1958-61 1570
2 Beppu WLKI 1946-57
3 Beppu FEN Kyushu 1949-56 1570
4 Camp Schimmelpfennig FEN Sendai 1953-58
5 Chitose FEN Sapporo 1953-58 1570
6 Chitose FEN Chitose 1958 1570
7 Fukuoka WLKI 1946-49 1360
8 Fukuoka FEN Kyushu 1949 1380
9 Hachinohe WVTH 1945-46 1200
10 Hachinohe FEN Hachinohe 1950-56
11 Hachinohe FEN Hachinohe 1956-56
12 Hiroshima WLKH 1945 1440
13 Itazuke FEN Kyushu 1953 1550
14 Iwakuni FEN Iwakuni 1952 1590
15 Iwo Jima WVTX 1945-48 620/1500
16 Iwo Jima FEN Iwo Jima 1949-53
17 Iwo Jima FEN Iwo Jima 1953-62
18 Kanoya WLKA 1945-47 1490
19 Kokura WLKH 1946-47 1520
20 Kokura AKAX 1947-48
21 Kokura AKAS 1948-49
22 Kokura FEN Kyushu 1949-53
23 Kokura FEN Itazuke 1953-57
24 Koshien-Kobe FEN Osaka-Nagoya 1953-57 1530
25 Kumamoto WLKF 1945-47 1400
26 Kumamoto FEN Kyushu 1950-56
27 Kure WLKH 1946 1500
28 Kure WVTV 1946 1470
29 Kure WLKH 1945 1440
30 Kure WLKI 1945 930
31 Kure WLKS 1946 1470
32 Kure WLKS 1946 6085
33 Kure WLKS 1946 6105
34 Kure WVTW 1946
35 Kure WLKT 1946
36 Kure WVTX 1946
37 Kure WLKU 1946
38 Kure WVTY 1946
39 Kure WLKV 1946
40 Kure WVTZ 1946
41 Kure WLKW 1946
42 Kyushu [Northern] WVTR 1945 1420
43 Kyushu [Northern] WVTO 1945
44 Kyushu [Northern] WVTH 1945 1480
45 Kyushu [Northern] WVTP 1945 1480
46 Kyushu [Northern] WVTQ 1945 1450
47 Matsuyama 1945-46 750
48 Miho FEN Hachinohe 1952-58
49 Misawa FEN Misawa 1953-58 1510
50 Nagoya WVTC 1946-46 1340
51 Nagoya WVTQ 1946-49 1340
52 Nagoya FEN Osaka 1949-53 1270
53 Nagoya FEN Osaka-Nagoya 1953 1270
54 Nara FEN Osaka-Nagoya 1953-58
55 Niigata WLKB 1945-46 1430
56 Niigata FEN Niigata 1954-56
57 Niigata FEN Tokyo 1956-58
58 Okayama WLKH 1946-46 1480/1520
59 Okinawa WXLH 1945-46 680/810/1060
60 Okinawa WKLH 1946-49 1000
61 Okinawa FEN Okinawa 1949
62 Omura WVTO 1945 1450
63 Osaka WVTQ 1945-49 1310
64 Osaka FEN Osaka 1949 1390
65 Otsu FEN Osaka-Nagoya 1953-57 1540
66 Saga WLKH 1946
67 Saga FEN Kyushu 1949-50
68 Sapporo WLKD 1945-46 1420
69 Sapporo WLKJ 1946-49 1320
70 Sapporo WLKJ 1946 1500
71 Sapporo FEN Sapporo 1949-58
72 Sasebo WVTO 1945-46
73 Sasebo WLKH 1946
74 Sasebo FEN Kyushu 1950 1540
75 Sendai WLKE 1945-49 1370
76 Sendai FEN Sendai 1949 1450
77 Tokyo WVTR 1945 590
78 Tokyo 1945 990
79 Tokyo WVTR 1945 3015
80 Tokyo WVTR 1945 6075
81 Tokyo WVTR 1945 7550
82 Tokyo WVTR 1945 9605
83 Tokyo WVTR 1945 15100
84 Tokyo FEN Tokyo 1949 590/810
85 Tsuruga WVTQ 1945 1180
86 Wakkanai FEN Wakkanai 1958
87 Yamaguchi JKL 4860
88 Yamaguchi JKL2 9605

‘This is Armed Forces Radio broadcasting from downtown Tokyo’

According to the September 15 1945 issue of the ‘Far Eastern Network News’, ‘Captain Melville Bartell, O/C, WVTR was the first American to speak officially over Radio Tokyo since Pearl Harbor’.

Far Eastern Network News 1945
© Stephen J Bartell Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

Stephen writes ‘I often think about the impact that my father’s statement must have had to all the troops stationed across the Pacific Theater, especially after listening to Tokyo Rose’s poison for all those years. It must stand as one of the most exceptional moments in broadcast history.’

We’re grateful to Stephen for sharing this special information with us, and with much gratitude to him and in memory of Captain Melville Bartell, we will feature more original WVTR Tokyo broadcasting heritage as part of our AFRS Armed Forces Radio Memories Collection.

Read these AFRS Japan stories already online:

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