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

Zapatillas Running trail

We are expecting our application for “koeki shadan hojin,” or public interest incorporated association, to be approved shortly.

We’re also ramping up our membership marketing efforts. Our recent membership campaign was quite successful, so we’re launching the Continue Membership Development Program from Jan. 1 to March 31 this year. New Associates will receive ¥70,000 credit. They are also eligible for an instant lottery whereby every fifth approved applicant will receive a ¥30,000 dining voucher. Other new members will receive credit on their joining fee as before.

We’ll also be offering orientation activities; a corporate membership development program; weekend business forum tie-in with IRS and JTB; high school graduation welcome visit tie-in with JTB; a young adult welcoming party for potential Associate members.

Our first “Asa-kai” talk with former Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei attracted 45 attendees, far exceeding our expectations. For our second “Asa-kai” on Tues. Jan. 14 (7:30-8:45), our guest speaker will be the influential and award-winning Bloomberg columnist William Pesek. Please come to hear his insights on news topics in business and politics in the Asia-Pacific region.

I will be spreading the good word about the FCCJ in Kansai this month with a talk at two venues on Sat. Jan. 25: Knowledge Capital in the Grand Front Bldg. at JR Osaka station at 2pm, and Kyoto International House at 6:30pm. Endless thanks to FCCJ member extraordinaire Eric Johnston, deputy editor for the Japan Times in Osaka, who has spent many hours organizing this. (Please see the FCCJ website for more details.)

Our online Journalist Information Service (JIS) is also launching in January to better inform our regular members about media events of interest in the Kanto region, according to Freedom of the Press Committee Chairman Michael Penn. Accredited journalists should sign up at the Front Desk for access. For more information see the Number 1 Shimbun Oct. 2013 article, “FOP retooling for a new mission.”

There has been much debate about the future of the Number 1 Shimbun printed version. It is the face of the club, and a vital communication and promotional tool. Advertising is key to keeping the printed version alive. The Publications Committee offered a solution at the Dec. 18 GMM: Recruit three more advertisers on annual contracts for 12 full-page ads at ¥100,000 per page, the current rate. Five such advertisers would yield revenue of ¥500,000 per issue, sufficient to cover all “cash” costs, including printing, design and distribution. FCCJ would then only have to pay for member-generated content compensated in chits (@ ¥20/word). The Publications Committee has asked the GMM to give the Club until June 2014 to make Number 1 more cost effective. Please let us know if you can help with the effort to source advertisers. Our “koeki” status would allow us to receive donations that are tax deductible, so sponsorship might be an attractive alternative for businesses seeking advertising options.

On a very different note, we would like to offer hearty congratulations to former FCCJ president Myron Belkind for his election as president of the National Press Club. Myron is the first NPC president with a four-decade international career — as foreign correspondent and bureau chief with The Associated Press, heading bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo. We sent him a video congratulatory message that will be shown at the traditional inaugural gala on Jan. 25. Myron, we wish you the very best!

Lucy Birmingham

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