The statistics listed in this site are taken from public data published by the Japanese MPT, at the end of the fiscal year ending March of each calendar year. The tables in the site have been restated for calendar year.
Care must be taken in comparing this data to "equivalent" U.S. FCC data. There are many differences in the in regulations that make direct comparisons problematic. Still similarities exist. The Japanese system has led the world in liberalization of licensing, which led to its rapid growth. This information may be useful in projecting trends in the Amateur Radio service in other countries planning further liberalization of the license process.
Please use this data carefully. Consider the following points:
The Japanese MPT issues two separate licenses to Amateurs - an Operator License, and a Station License. There are four Operator Classes: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th which are roughly equivalent to the U.S. Extra, General, Tech Plus, and Technician licenses. Operator permits are for life, and the MPT has no way of tracking status of licensees, so the data published really states the cumulative total of Operator licenses that have ever been issued. As a result there are approximately four times as many amateurs with operating licenses in Japan as in the U.S., with a population less than half.
Operators upgrading to higher class licenses retain all previous licenses, so the statistics "double count" amateurs, overstating the total number of licensees. Statistics in this site for "New Amateurs" are computed by simple difference with the previous year and so slightly overstates growth of Japanese Amateur Radio Operators.
U. S. Amateur licenses are now for ten years, so a direct comparison can not be made. Effects of "loss of interest" in Amateur Radio would show up more quickly in Japan if renewals drop off. Unsurprisingly this is evident in station statistics in the last four years.
Japanese Station license fees are about ¥15,000 ($120) for a new license and and additional ¥3,500 ($28) for each five year renewal. The relatively high fees may affect the Amateur Radio service, especially during times of slow economic growth.
The JARL handles the international QSO bureau only for members, an important incentive for some members operating HF to join. This should be considered when comparing membership data to other counties.
In 1996, the need to copy the Japanese Katakana CW code set at 12 wpm was dropped from the First Class operator license requirements. This alphabet of 48 characters, in addition to International Morse, was a significant hurdle for even average Japanese nationals. International Morse at 20 wpm remains a requirement. Note the substantial increase of this class of Japanese operators in 1997 as a result.
Best 73 de Joe Speroni, AH0A/7J1AAA