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01 President Peter Langan 160



The new Club on January 8 played host to one of the biggest press conferences ever held at the FCCJ, when Carlos Ghosn's lawyers came to speak. The event attracted all of Japan's main networks, many of whom covered it live, and more than 350 people attended.

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Demand was such that we had to close the lunch service early as people spilled over into the main bar. The thought that went through my mind while seated at the speakers' table was the line from the movie Jaws: "We need a bigger boat."Why did the lawyers for Ghosn, Japan's most well-known foreign businessman, choose the FCCJ for their first press conference? One reason is the Club's reputation built over 74 years by the efforts of early members. Another reason is the work of the Professional Activities Committee. In this I must single out PAC co-chair Teddy Jimbo who worked tirelessly to make this happen and was MC for the event.As of writing, Ghosn remains in detention on allegations of financial misconduct at Nissan, the carmaker he once led. PAC members will remain focused on keeping the FCCJ a central venue for this unfolding story.In other Club news, I announced earlier that Silvano Borroni's catering group was the new food and beverage provider for the FCCJ. Silvano and his team started operations in early January, bringing in an executive chef and pastry chef.At the FCCJ Board meeting on January 21, General Manager Marcus Fishenden reported that F&B feedback from members was generally positive, although some had raised concerns about pricing.
The GM said the first items rolled out were from the more expensive section of the prior menu focusing on fresh fish, pasta and good-quality steak. Silvano's kitchen is baking fresh bread and a fuller range of menu items will be introduced as we move into February and beyond.At the Board meeting, the GM and Treasurer Willem Kortekaas reported on the latest accounts for December, which reflected many of the one-time costs related to the move to the new premises. However, I can report the moving costs came in under budget.Meantime, the donation drive continues among members, reaching a total of 7 million yen as of writing, with a particularly generous 3 million yen donation from an Associate Member. We'll continue a donation drive among individuals and groups outside the Club.The No1 Shimbun editor Greg Starr and Publications Committee Co-Chair Geoff Tudor also attended the Board meeting to give an update on the magazine's operations and how to fund it without sustainable advertising. One consideration is a 300-yen addition to membership fees, triggering a board discussion on last year's survey about demand for the magazine among Club members. We need to take a harder look at that survey and perhaps seek more feedback. Do members wish to keep the magazine running for the price of a cup of coffee each month?A membership drive is high on the Board's priority list and a plan was approved to offer limited 1-month guest memberships with the option to apply for full membership.Last but not least, we discussed the perennial problem of trying to reach a quorum to hold General Membership Meetings. You will be hearing more on potential solutions to that issue in the weeks ahead of the March GMM.

Best regards,Peter Langan,
President, FCCJ.


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