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No1-2018-10 01 Robert Whiting 2.0



Dear members,

In the absence of President Peter Langan and First Vice President Abby Leonard, I am writing the last President’s Message to be issued from the Yurakucho Denki Building, home to the FCCJ since February 1976.
On Oct. 26, we begin the move into our new home on the 5th and 6th floors of the Marunouchi Nijubashi Building. Although we will lose our bird’s-eye view of the Yurakucho cityscape and the Imperial Palace grounds, we trust the ambience of the famed Nakadori, as well as all the benefits of a spanking new facility, will more than compensate.

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Peter Langan 160px



Dear members,

I have less space this month, so forgive the bullet-point approach.
First off, a big thanks goes to Albert Siegel for his past year as editor of the Number 1 Shimbun. Albert will be taking on another role to help build and expand the FCCJ’s presence on social media. Greg Starr returns as editor of the Club magazine, to soon be joined by Andrew Pothecary as designer. Please join me in congratulating these three gentlemen and get in touch if you have any ideas for helping them in their respective roles.


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Peter Langan 160px


Dear FCCJ members,
I write this as July’s prolonged and deadly heat wave finally broke after setting temperature records, only then to be followed by a typhoon. This of course on top of the devastating and also deadly floods in western Japan. I’m sure you will join me in extending all our sympathies to those who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in these natural disasters.

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Peter Langan 160px

Dear FCCJ members,
I write this as July’s prolonged and deadly heat wave finally broke after setting temperature records, only then to be followed by a typhoon. This of course on top of the devastating and also deadly floods in western Japan. I’m sure you will join me in extending all our sympathies to those who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in these natural disasters.

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With the recent appointment of a new general manager to oversee the Club’s staff and administration, we on the Board feel a sense of relief as we can now shift away from certain aspects of the Club that have been taking up our time

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The establishment in 1998 of the Keizo Obuchi government was a major positive turning point for foreign correspondents in Japan. That’s because the late Prime Minister Obuchi was eager for his voice and the policies of his cabinet to reach foreign countries, directly from the mouths of Japanese officials.

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The FCCJ is confronting multiple crucial challenges all at once. Start with the move to a nearby location in Marounochi. There’s been lots of talk about it and all I can add is to propose officially designating it as Japan’s Third Major Recent Move.

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During the last month, I received more than 2,000 FCCJ president-related e-mails sent to my computer, another 500 to my mobile phone and several dozen text messages, many of which required an immediate response, sometimes after midnight.

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WITH JAPAN’S OBON HOLIDAY approaching, I want to assure FCCJ Members that your Board is moving forward with promised reforms.



I would like to thank the FCCJ members for their active participation in the 2017 elections and their voting for continuity and stability as the club is sailing through high waves.

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With the 2016-2017 FCCJ BOD year winding to a close, I would like to extend to the Club’s membership and particularly the dozens of volunteers my appreciation for their support and trust,

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A group of journalists were invited to an alternative universe and, while having an audience with the king there, were handed a bundle of cash. The following year, the same group were invited by the same king and, as in the previous year, all were handed more cash except one journalist who looked puzzled.


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TRYING TO GET A quorum at our March general membership meeting, FCCJ’s annual budget meeting, should be a wakeup call for members.

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THE FCCJ IS FACING an extraordinary dilemma regarding the proposed move to new premises.

A report from the Club Treasurer says that this move involves significantly increased rent charges and moving costs which cannot be safely met without raising monthly dues significantly.

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PLEASE ATTEND THE emergency GMM. The FCCJ Board of Directors has decided to hold an emergency General Membership Meeting (GMM), seeking Members’ votes on a crucial issue facing our Club, which is the proposed move from the current building to a new building three blocks away.

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SOME SHARE THE VIEW that Japan is finished as an international news hub – and believe that the age of foreign correspondents is part of the past as well. I disagree.

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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.




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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