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With cherry blossoms and hanami beckoning, it’s definitely time to do something fun, and a glance at the FCCJ’s monthly calendar shows a remarkable mix of entertainment options.

 

The massive snowstorm on Feb. 8 may have created havoc in Tokyo but it was a winter wonderland when viewed from the Club’s 20th floor.

We got off to an exciting start in January after the New Year holiday. I can’t tell you how happy I was to greet our new general manager Tomohiko (Tom) Yanagi on his first day.

明けましておめでとうございます。本年もよろしくお願いいたします。
WISHING YOU A FULFILLING 2014, AS WE GALLOP INTO THE YEAR OF THE HORSE.

We have many exciting and positive changes to look forward to this year.

The FCCJ is back in the news, helping kick off the media storm on the Designated Secrets Protection Bill. Opposition had been mounting when Abe’s Cabinet approved the controversial bill on Oct. 25.

FCCJ "Designated Secrets Bill" Protest Statement

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan views with deep concern the "Designated Secrets Bill" now under consideration by the Japanese Diet. In particular, we are alarmed by the text of the bill, as well as associated statements made by some ruling party lawmakers, relating to the potential targeting of journalists for prosecution and imprisonment.

It is at the very heart of investigative journalism in open societies to uncover secrets and to inform the people about the activities of government. Such journalism is not a crime, but rather a crucial part of the checks-and-balances that go hand-in-hand with democracy.

The current text of the bill seems to suggest that freedom of the press is no longer a constitutional right, but merely something for which government officials “must show sufficient consideration.”Moreover, the "Designated Secrets Bill" specifically warns journalists that they must not engage in "inappropriate methods" in conducting investigations of government policy. This appears to be a direct threat aimed at the media profession and is unacceptably open to wide interpretations in individual cases.

Such vague language could be, in effect, a license for government officials to prosecute journalists almost as they please.The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan includes members who are both citizens of Japan and those who are not. But our venerable organization, established in 1945, has always viewed freedom of the press and free exchange of information as the crucial means by which to maintain and increase friendly relations and sympathetic understanding between Japan and other countries.

In that context, we urge the Diet to either reject the "Designated Secrets Bill" in total, or else to redraft it so substantially that it ceases to pose a threat to both journalism and to the democratic future of the Japanese nation.

Lucy Birmingham

President

Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

November 11, 2013

 

 

日本外国特派員協会は現在日本の国会で審議中の「特定秘密保護法案」を深く憂慮しています。

特に、われわれが懸念しているのは、同法案の中にジャーナリストに対する起訴や禁固を可能にする条文が含まれており、与党議員の一部が、それに順ずる発言を行っていることです。

開かれた社会における調査報道の真髄は、政府の活動に関する秘密を明らかにし、それを市民に伝えることにあります。そのよな報道行為は民主主義の基本である抑制と均衡のシステムに不可欠なものであって、犯罪などではありません。

本法案の条文によれば、報道の自由はもはや憲法で保障された権利ではなく、政府高官が

「充分な配慮を示すべき」対象に過ぎないものとなっています。

その上、「特定秘密保護法案」には公共政策に関する取材において「不適切な方法」を用いてはならないといった、ジャーナリストに対する具体的な警告文まで含まれています。これはメディアに対する直接的な威嚇であり、十分に拡大解釈の余地がある表現は、政府に対し、ジャーナリストを意のままに逮捕する権限を与えることになります。

日本外国特派員協会の会員には日本国籍を有する者と外国籍を有する者が含まれていますが、1945年に設立された由緒ある当協会は常に報道の自由と情報の自由な流通こそが、日本と諸外国との間の友好関係や相互理解を維持、増進するための不可欠な手段と信じてまいりました。

そのよな観点から、われわれは国会に対し、「特定秘密保護法案」を廃案とするか、もしくは将来の日本の民主主義と報道活動に対する脅威とならないよな内容への大幅な修正を、強く求めます。

ルーシー・バーミンガム

日本外国特派員協会々長

平成251113

 

The holiday and travel season is fast approaching, along with opportunities to enjoy FCCJ’s reciprocal ties with press clubs abroad. We’ve got a total of 13 in Asia, the U.S. and Canada.

The weeks have been speeding by, thankfully with October’s cooler days and a 
whiff of fall in the air. On top of the agenda is our new membership campaign launched Oct. 1.

Despite the searing August heat and Obon holiday we had a lively month, with progress on
important issues, popular “Nights” and a history-making PAC luncheon with a Hollywood rebel.
Business first. After months of interviews and heated debate, the board of directors agreed

Wow, there’s nothing like starting off with a bang. I knew the president’s job came with issues
but I never realized how many. (I’m appreciatingformer president Georges Baumgartner
more and more for his three-year tenure!) The six items below are top priority for the Club.

First, sincere thanks to everyone who made the effort to vote in the election for the board
of directors. 
I admit I used to be a lackluster voter. A few years back, I finally came to
realize how important it is 
for our membership. Your vote is a vote for the sustainability
and dynamism of our Club. (Okay, 
lecture ended.)

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