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01-1


Dear members,

The month of June is when the incumbent board wraps up the year’s work and holds elections for a new board. I take this opportunity to express thanks to my board for their efforts to run Club affairs in this annus horribilis (horrible year, for those who didn’t study Latin). The year from July 1, 2019, witnessed continuation of the challenges our Club had faced since we changed our status to shadan koeki, adopted outsourcing of food and beverage and moved to a new location.

As the board’s year began, its then-leaders were preparing to liquidate the Club, as their calculations and policies suggested we were only a few months away from insolvency. Upon the resignation of the previous president, I was elected to lead the Club for the rest of the year. I placed my main focus on stabilizing our financial health. As if we didn’t have enough on our plate, we’ve also had to cope with human resources changes and, starting early in this calendar year, the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many members called for a shutdown, but I and others thought we needed to keep the Club as an open hub for news making and news reporting.

In the end, although an unexpected tiny virus caused global health, financial and economic problems, our Club remained intact and we were able to set policies to continue our rise. This would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our hard-working staff, and a group of highly skilled and determined board members. I would like to express, on behalf of the membership, my great respect for and thanks to them.

Special thanks go to our veteran club member Bob Whiting, who served five years on consecutive boards in the most critical times. Bob is leaving the board along with Abby Leonard, who contributed greatly to the Freedom of Press committee and awards program. Thanks go also to club member Takashi Kawachi, the former Mainichi Shimbun editor who worked hard on this board as our secretary preparing the minutes. He is leaving the board, too.

Thanks also go to our first vice president Monzurul Huq whose quiet diplomacy helped our board sail smoothly, avoiding the icebergs of corona and others perils. Treasurer Mehdi Bassiri worked hard in the current board heading the task force to negotiate a possible contract with our food and beverage provider after taking over the treasurer post from a predecessor who resigned. Mary Corbett returned to the board mid-term and is active as usual in following the details of our governing issues. Akihiko Tanabe, the newcomer to the board, waded right into complex issues of human resources, house & property and food & beverages.

More thanks to our parliamentarian, Larry Cesar, and our two kanji, Kaz Abiko and Makoko Honjo, who are leaving the board.

Thank you all for your hard work.

Special advisers Rick Dyck, Andrew Horvat, Dan Sloan and Harumi Kumagai provided important contribution to the affairs and I thank them.

I would also like to thank Albert Siegel for helping with the production of the July issue of the Number 1 Shimbun while we searched for a new editor and designer after the resignations of the previous team.

Our search is now over, so please welcome Peter O'Connor as the new editor along with award-winning designer and art director Kohji Shiiki, whose work includes Metropolis and the Tokyo American Club magazine. I have appointed Peter as the editor starting with the August issue.

Peter has worked on and off on three regular publications: Private EyeThe Times and The Irish Times (the last two as a reviewer). He previously edited The Journal of Irish Studies, and has edited 60 volumes on media history and propaganda. This is not a conventional background for a Number 1 Shimbun editor, but the magazine can benefit from a change of tone, maintaining Club affairs at the core, with more involvement in Book Breaks and PAC Events, a deeper engagement with the Club’s working parts, such as the restaurant, the library and even the treasury — but also aiming for some real exclusives, and real insights into the nature of Japan and of the systemic changes moving East Asia.

Finally, I want to offer special thanks to Geoffrey Tudor for his many years of service to the Number 1 Shimbun. Geoff has decided to retire as chairman of the publication committee with publication of the July issue.

The FCCJ, infused with momentum and energy provided by our loyal members and staff, continues its journey prepared for the good days to come.


– Khaldon Azhari

 

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