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The Enigma of Japanese Callsign System

- Parts updated on 22-Feb-00 are in red italics -

(1) Prefixes JA-JS, 7J-7N and 8J-8N have been allocated to us.

(2) JA callsigns have been assigned in the following order post war. (x=number=call area)

(3) Call areas, population and major cities for those interested.

(4) Prefix JD is reserved for Ogasawara Is. (including Minami-torishima). Only JD1 exists, no other numbers. JB and JC have never been used. I don't know for what these prefixes are reserved.

(5) Special rules for Okinawa (JR6, JS6). Formerly known as Ryukyu islands (KR6), Okinawa is a semi-tropical island group located in the south-west of Japan. It is now one of 47 prefectures of Japan. Callsigns have been assigned in the following order. US hams in military bases may use KA6 prefix but we are not allowed to communicate with them.

One confusing fact. JR6AAA-QQZ are not Okinawa. They had been assigned for other JA6 (Kyushu mainland) area. In contrast, all JS6 callsigns are Okinawa. In other callareas except JA6, JSx prefixes have no special geographical meaning. As JS is the last prefix to be assigned in J-series, we only have JS1, JS2 and JS3 callsigns at this moment.

(6) Suffixes YAA-ZZZ are reserved for club stations. Therefore, any club stations in JA should have a six-letter callsign. This may be a disadvantage in contests. JA authority have not provided shorter callsigns for this purpose. JR6YAA-ZZZ for club stations in Okinawa, JD1YAA-ZZZ for those in Ogasawara.

(7) 2-letter suffixes were assigned only for JAx prefixes (very old timers). No JHxAA, JExAA, .... , JSxAA stations. However, there is an exception for JR (repeater stations).

(8) Repeater stations. We have hundreds of 70cm and 23cm repeaters throughout the country, as well as some 13cm repeaters and two 10m repeaters. We have NO 6m and 2m repeaters. Callsigns are assigned in the following order. JRxWA-WZ, JRxVA-VZ, JPxYCA-YCZ, JPxYDA-YDZ, JPxYEA-YEZ, ....

(9) Prefix 7Jx is for foreign amateurs who reside in JA under reciprocal permit. Normally it is issued sequencially from 7JxAxx series, while 7J6Cxx means 7J's in Okinawa (normally US military). 7J1RL was exceptionally used for Okino-torishima DXpedition. In 1999, JA authority has announced that, for non-Japanse, they will start to use the same callsign series as Japanese. (no discriminations any more ... but maybe 7J's sound better ...)

(10) Prefix 8Jx is normally used for special event stations. 8J3 stations had been used for emergency communications during the aftermath of Kobe earthquake. Prefixes 8K and 8L have never been used as far as I know. Prefix 8Nx has recently been used for special event stations which allow guest operation by foreign amateurs without reciprocal permit (eg. 8N0WOG for Winter Olympic Games in Nagano).

(11) Callsigns have nothing to do with the holder's license class. We have the following 4 classes of license.

(12) Callsign shortage of JA was due to the increasing number of amateurs. This first occured in JA1 (Tokyo, Yokohama) area about thirteen years ago, followed by JA3 (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) and JA2 (Nagoya) areas.

(13) Portable and mobile operation. Some JA stations may use suffix /(callarea) like JG1VGX/3. This may have two meanings.

If someone uses suffix /(one's own call area), like JG1VGX/1, this only means the latter case; i.e. he is portable or mobile within his own call area.

Confusing fact about portable operations by 7K-7N series licensee.

(14) Currently we cannot reserve any 'wished' callsign (vanity) for individual station, although it had been allowed in some cases in the past (very early years). However, special callsigns (normally 8Jx ) for special event stations are available on request. (ex. 8J1HAM for the event station at Tokyo Ham Fair)

on 3-Dec-98 written by rin JG1VGX, Rimmei Fukuda; updated on 22-Feb-00


I wrote this for the convenience of foreign amateurs who may want to know Japanese callsign system. Although I tried to provide correct information as far as I know, some of those may be outdated or incorrect. Readers should accept that I will not take any responsibility for any incorrect information.

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