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JUNE 2014 IS AN extremely important month in FCCJ history. On Thursday the 26th we’ll be holding the first Annual General Membership Meeting (AGMM) as a public interest incorporated association (koeki shadan hojin).

平成26328(March 28, 2014) was the day my shaking hand signed the official letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe granting us the right to become a public interest incorporated association (koeki shadan hojin).


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.


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


Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

November 11, 2013















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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