Recently, I have met a couple of old friends, Jim W6YA and Chip K7JA, who attended the Visalia DX convention last month. Both of them seemed to have great time with friends, old or new. I asked them how many young people were there. Both answered to me there had been only two young hams. Chip told me those two young ones were 21 years or younger. One was ZL4YL as Jim told me. Jim seemed very pleased to have her there. She was not a conversational CW operator, though. It was Chip's observation that each middle aged hams in thirties or forties in their age was about 10% of the attendees, respectively.
It was a real nice feast for hams interested in DXing. But I could not help feeling it was shedding the last brilliant light in the history of ham radio. DXing is not ham radio itself but is the main genre which attracted young hams and lead them to be good operators. Reduction of the number of young hams in that genre sure means ham radio is declining in every respect, as it has been repeatedly told. Chip, a 66 year old ham, seemed one of the youngest in the main group in the convention. It means the convention won't be carried out or, at least, would be reduced in size in a decade or two.
In Japan, the situation is rather worse than in the US. In addition to the aging process in the society, there are more bureaucracy which benefits those, private or administrative, hunting concessions. Even JARL is letting them seek concession in ham radio. The former heads, directors or the others, would participate in the concession hunting. The license system is getting more and more complicated and requiring more fee. I am sure it will accelerate the tendency of decline of ham radio in our country.
In order to maintain and progress this hobby, it is a matter of urgence to advocate young people into it. Since the high tech in radio communication and the appearance of the internet environment has come in the society, the situation is quite different from that several decades ago when DXing was the only window to foreign countries. We could not invite youth in the same manner as in the old days. The point is, however, the same as before. It should be something true and not changing in time. Any enjoyment which disappears in some time won't attract young people. We are asked if our way of enjoyment is worth calling them for.
In '60s, we have had a club in the town of Kiyose, a suburb in Tokyo, where I started ham radio at the age of 13 years. Ham radio was a hobby for young people interested in radio communication and in home brewing radio gears. Time has passed. Very few are still on the air in that town now. Could we regain the exciting era of ham radio with young people?