Friday, May 05, 2017

Japanese radio station on an Australian island

Browse Island, Australia
During the era of the Pacific War, there were numerous rumors of Japanese armed personnel landing at isolated northern areas on the Australian continent, though it is evident that there were more rumors and less landings.  Some wartime stories even tell of Japanese scout planes landing at bush airfields up north, though it is known quite reliably that submarine launched scout planes did fly along the Tasmanian coastline, and over the cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
            There is one verified landing of Japanese personnel on the isolated coastline of Western Australia near Browse Island.  A 25 ton fishing vessel the "Hiyoshi Maru” carried army and navy personnel from Timor, and it was escorted on the earlier part of its journey by a Mitsubishi airplane, Type 99 light bomber.  The names of the Japanese party aboard the ship are given, and Lance Corporal Kazuo Ito was the radio operator.
            During the early afternoon of January 19, 1944 three separate parties from the "Hiyoshi Maru” landed and scouted the area at the very northern tip of the Western Australian coastline, and they also filmed what they saw with an 8 mm movie camera. 
            It is probable that Lance Corporal Kazuo Ito did not use his radio transmitter while in Australian waters, though there were rumors abounding back then that Japanese spies in Australia did communicate critical information by radio.  Professor Hiromi Tanaka, professor of War History at the National Defence Academy at Yokosuka in Japan, states that small bands of Japanese spies lived on small outer islands off the coast of Australia for months at a time, and they were then relieved by the arrival of a new party.  It should be stated though that government authorities in Australia have no tangible record of any such events. 
            However, there was one very interesting story as to how a Japanese spy used a radio transmitter in Australia during the Pacific War.  This is the story.
            When the subversive had collected the information he desired, he took a small boat out to a nearby island and he tuned his small low powered transmitter to a frequency just under the edge of a nearby mediumwave broadcasting station.  The spy then transmitted the information in Morse Code, and the heterodyne signal was almost impossible to hear on the mainland, except by an astute radio monitor with good receiving equipment.
            This story could be true, and it was accepted by the DX world in Australia at the time, but as it is told, there are several strange anomalies.  According to the government report, the astute international radio monitor who discovered this disturbing information was living in suburban Sydney and the transmissions were said to be from an island location near Newcastle, a distance of some 75 miles north.  Such low power reception at such a distance would be almost impossible.
            The callsign of the supposed broadcasting station in Newcastle is given, but in reality that callsign actually belonged to a mediumwave station located in Sydney.
            The subversive is said to have taken a small boat out to a small island near Newcastle, but the nearest island to Newcastle is 200 miles further north.
            The owners of the radio broadcasting station in Newcastle were named as a particular religious organization; that religious organization does own hundreds of radio stations around the world these days, but never any in Australia back then.
            The radio station in Newcastle that was said to be the innocent culprit in these subversive events was off the air before Japan entered the Pacific War; it was silent at the time when the spy radio operator was said to be active.
            We are not listing any of the known identifications in this radio story simply to protect the innocent.  However, the name of the government approved operator who discovered this interesting radio event is known. 
            Was then the story really true, and the informant was simply relying on a faulty memory?  Or was it simply a wartime ruse, a disinformation event that fitted the requirements for some unidentified wartime circumstance?
(AWR Wavescan/NWS 247)