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I RAN FOR THE presidency of the FCCJ for the first time in 2007. My friend Dan Sloan, then a TV correspondent for Thompson Reuters, nominated me. Even though I didn’t win, I was honored to be considered for the FCCJ’s presidency.

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WITHIN THE FIRST FEW days of my being elected by the Board of Directors as the new president of the FCCJ (after Peter Langan resigned to take up a new post in Hong Kong), I was faced with a major decision over what to do about the Club’s proposed move to new premises in October 2018.

 

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I WAS OUT OF JAPAN for much of September, but I didn’t dodge all of the typhoons, arriving back in Japan in the early hours of Sept. 19 to a good drenching over several days.

Such weather does have an upside: Nothing beats a good read when it’s pouring down outside.

I’m reading The Power of Habit, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. I usually stay well away from books in the so-called self-help genre, but this is interesting stuff on the latest research and case studies on how habits form and can be changed.

My other reading included the minutes of FCCJ Board meetings and a General Membership Meeting written in September and October of 1975. I realize that sounds very sad, but as the Club is now in the process of moving, the minutes of 41 years ago make for a good read as they deal with the FCCJ’s move from its previous location to the current premises in the Yurakucho Denki building.

The minutes support the adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That is, the concerns of members in 1975 mirror those in the Club today regarding moving premises.

I’ll paraphrase, but among the questions in the minutes is this one: “Will we be able to afford the rent in the bigger space in the Denki Building?” Countered by: “We won’t get a better offer than the one by Mitsubishi.” And they go on: “The Denki Building is inconvenient,” said some. “We have to get our finances in order before we move,” and “The Club should get smaller not bigger,” were some others.

One discussion involved moving from a walk-in club
to one on the 20th floor. Some members said having to use elevators was inconvenient and would damage the Club’s prestige.

As those voices of 41 years ago echo through FCCJ Board, committee and bar meetings today, I unfortunately will no longer be involved, as I’m leaving Japan for a job in Hong Kong. You are left in the most capable hands of Khaldon Azhari as FCCJ President.

There are many people I’d like to thank for the work they do for the FCCJ, but that would fill several pages. Instead I’ll limit it to two “volunteers" I’ve worked most closely with in the past year or more: Bob Whiting and Kurt Sieber. They are both unsung heroes, dedicating enormous amounts of time and energy to the Club to try and make it the best it can be. I salute you, gentlemen. It’s been an honor.

      Peter Langan

 

KHALDON AZHARI has been selected to replace Peter Langan upon his resignation.

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I WANT TO DISCUSS a topic that is the main feature of this month’s Number 1 Shimbun: The FCCJ move to a new Club in a new building a few blocks up Naka-dori.

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BIT RUSHED WITH THE column this month as I’m writing right after a bus trip from Narita and landing back in Japan from a trip to Australia.

For those who have heard the stories of warmer oceans bleaching the Great Barrier Reef, I’m afraid that based on what I saw during a few scuba dives the stories seem to have some truth to them.

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WHILE THIS IS MY first column for the Number 1 Shimbun since becoming president of the FCCJ on June 15, I would like to pick up where my predecessor Suvendrini Kakuchi left off in her last column.

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I PEN THIS LAST column as president with a few important lessons for the new Board. The bottom line is that the FCCJ is an exceptional organization, and my honest opinion is that the challenges can be handled with the talent we have onboard.

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MAY MARKS THE END of this Board’s tenure and my stint as your FCCJ president.

We’ll wrap up our year in early June with a final meeting, followed by elections and the handover to the new officers.

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THE MONTH OF APRIL heralds spring and a new fiscal year in Japan. The positive sentiment of this season represents the mood in the FCCJ following the March General Membership Meeting, when Members overwhelmingly voted to approve the Board’s settlement ending the four-year-long lawsuit by union staff members.

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LET ME START OFF my column this month with an important reminder for Regular Members. The next General Membership Meeting, a crucial event for Club business, has been scheduled for March 8.

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THE FCCJ GREETED 2016 with our traditional Hacks and Flacks Party, bringing correspondents and journalists together with foreign and Japanese dignitaries, business figures and PR managers who were invited to support better networking and sharing of information.

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WISHING ALL MEMBERS A Wonderful New Monkey Year – the best in health, wealth and may all your dreams come true!

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The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan’s 70th anniversary celebration was a glittering event, graced by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado.

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BEING ELECTED PRESIDENT OF the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on its 70th anniversary is a tremendous honor and a landmark in my career and personal life.

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Volunteers.

Look at almost any aspect of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and these are the people that are almost always behind it.

EVERYONE WHO EXPERIENCED 3/11, including those covering the disaster and its aftermath or just watching the 24/7 coverage, has been deeply affected by it.

 

AFTER THE RECENT ELECTION, we appear to have a strong consensus that the Club needs to move forward in our 70th anniversary year.

My two consecutive years as FCCJ president have come to a close, and this will be my last message. While the challenges have been overwhelming at times, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served the Club as president.

IT WAS A GREAT pleasure to see the many Associate Members at their General Meeting on April 13. One 40-year Member quietly told me that it was his first time to attend. Clearly, interest has increased now that Associates are finally able to decide Club policy.

Last month saw a remarkable flourish of activity at the FCCJ. After nine months of negotiations, we finally inked an agreement with Mitsubishi Estate to move four blocks into a new building complex in the central Marunouchi district which will be ready in 2018.

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