Interview with JH4RHF-Jun Tanaka

Posted: July 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

South Sudan 2011 115

Jun (in red) makes some of the first contacts from the new country of Southern Sudan-ST0R in 2011.

Jun Tanaka-JH4RHF is one of the quiet “unsung” heroes of the DXpeditioning realm. He has participated in dozens of important DXpeditions during the past two decades. Jun is a master technical troubleshooter, a superb operator and a very good man. He is happy to be the quiet man working behind the scenes during the DXpedition to ensure success. He is the “MacGyver” of the Intrepid-DX Group and has solved challenging technical issues and saved the day on each of our trips.

Jun is 52 years of age and was born near Hiroshima Japan.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun when did you become interested in amateur radio?

Jun-JH4RHF: I first became interested in amateur radio at age 10 when I listened to shortwave radio. I enjoyed listening to stations in Australia and in Beijing. This was before the Internet was very attractive to kids. When I was 9 or 10 years old, my Father bought a shortwave radio for us to enjoy. When I was in Grade 4, my friend got his license and encouraged me to do so. I obtained my Novice license at age 12. This is my 40th year in ham radio.

JH4RHF contesting at highschool (2)

Jun active as a young ham.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun tell us about your first station? What was your equipment?

Jun-JH4RHF: I started out with a Kenwood TS-520 radio and a dipole antenna which worked on 15 and 40 meters. It was great fun!

JH4RHF at Fieldday (2)

Jun and his ham friend.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun, I know that you have an interesting education and career, can you please tell us about it?

Jun-JH4RHF: I went to school in Japan and obtained a Ph.D in Experimental Nuclear Physics. After graduation, I worked at the school for four years. In 1999, I moved to Vienna, Austria to work for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). My job there is complimentary to supporting the Complementary Test Ban Organization (CTBO). I now work for IAEA in nuclear safeguards.


Paul-N6PSE: Jun, what does the CTBO do?

Jun-JH4RHF: The CTBO is monitoring nuclear weapons tests by conducting radiation and seismic measurement. We gather evidence of such tests and prepare reports. We also conduct field exercises to discover future or potential nuclear test sites. We have been measuring the Chernobyl site by using Gamma Rad detection by Helicopter, flying over the area. I have also visited the former Russian nuclear test sites in Kazakhstan. Its a remote six-hour drive from the nearest village. We stayed there for a month. The CTBTO is also monitoring the DPRK (North Korea) for unnatural seismic events.

I am now working as a Nuclear Inspector at IAEA. I regularly travel to India and Pakistan to inspect facilities. I have also travelled to Iran occasionally.

JH4RHF shack (2)

Jun’s early home station.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun, you have participated in many important DXpeditions, can you tell us about them?

Jun-JH4RHF: My first DXpedition was during a 1983 contest. We went to JD1-Ogasawara. This was very exciting and I wanted to make more of these activations. Up until then, My activity was limited to when I was a University student, we did multi-multi from the top of a hill with a 5Kw generator. In 1986 I participated in an activation of T32-E. Kiribati. My first real DXpedition was in 1989 to Revilla Gigedo as XF4L with N7NG, OH2BH, XE1L and others. This was a great experience with an international team.

In 1991, I was a member of the ZL9DX team to Auckland Island. This was a small team with two Japanese team members and three New Zealanders. In 1993 I went to KP1-Navassa Island with W5IJU, (K5VL). We had about ten team members. In 1995, I was a member of the D22CT/3D2CU DXpedition to Conway Reef. The Leaders were OH1RY, SM7PKK and we had five team members. In 1995, I was a member of the BV9P Pratas DXpedition team.

In 1996, I went to the DPRK with Zorro-JH1AJT. We met with the government and we brought one Icom IC-706 with us. Our antenna was a Cushcraft R7 vertical. We were unable to get permission to make any contacts. The DPRK government kept the IC-706 for other purposes.


QSL cards from just some of Jun’s many activations.

Paul-N6PSE: You were a member of the 1999 ZL9CI team, can you tell us about that DXpedition?

Jun-JH4RHF: Yes, this was the first DXpedition for the Braveheart. Nigel Jolly and his crew brought us to Campbell Island. It was a three-week trip. Very enjoyable and here 17 years later I find myself on the Braveheart with Nigel again.


Jun was a member of the 1989 XF4L DXpedition Team.

Paul-N6PSE: And then you did some exotic Contesting?

Jun-JH4RHF: Yes, I also enjoy Contesting. In 2000 and again in 2002, I enjoyed operating as a member of the big TS7N CQWW CW Contest team from Tunisia.


Paul-N6PSE: And then you went to Iraq, South Sudan and other exotic places?

Jun-JH4RHF: Yes, in 2006 I was a member of the 3B9C Rodriguez Island Team. That was a large team, well organized and very enjoyable. Then, in April 2010, I joined your YI9PSE team and operated from Erbil, Iraq. We had a lot of fun didn’t we?   Then there was the new Country of Southern Sudan in September 2011 and I again joined your ST0R team as one of the many operators. What a great adventure. And now here we are on the way home from VP8STI-South Sandwich and VP8SGI-South Georgia. What an amazing experience!


Paul-N6PSE: Jun, what was your favorite DXpedition?

Jun-JH4RHF: I like people and culture over big Pileups. YI9PSE, the VP8’s and ZL9 were the best. I enjoyed seeing the nature and the animals. Conway Reef is also a very special place.


Jun enjoys a stroll on South Georgia Island.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun, where is your “dream place” to operate?

Jun-JH4RHF: I think I would enjoy a warm place such as a Pacific Island or something like that.


Paul-N6PSE: Jun, do you have a preference in radios?

Jun-JH4RHF: I’ve used ICOM radios since 1983 and I prefer them very much for their good user interface. I’ve used all radios but I always come back to ICOM.


Jun operates as a member of the VP8STI/VP8SGI team.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun, do you have a favorite mode or band?

Jun-JH4RHF: I’m happy on any mode, any band, anytime.


Jun and Roger N4RR make antenna repairs at VP8SGI.

Paul-N6PSE: Jun, what do you think the future is of ham radio?

Jun-JH4RHF: I am very worried about the future of ham radio. The average age of a JARL member is 65 years old or close to that. So each year, the average age is getting older. JARL needs to introduce younger people to the hobby. I fear that 20 years from now, our pileups may be very small.


Paul-N6PSE: Jun, thank you for all that you do for the global amateur radio community. Not everyone can or wants to be a leader, but every leader knows that without men such as yourself we will not be successful. I hope that we can do many more fun and successful DXpeditions together in the future.

Jun-JH4RHF: Thank you Paul, yes, lets activate some more rare places together!








  1. Warren NW4C says:

    Very nice interview. Enjoyed ‘meeting’ Jun through your blog and look foreword to connecting with him on your next DXpedition. Warren NW4C

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