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EVERYONE WHO EXPERIENCED 3/11, including those covering the disaster and its aftermath or just watching the 24/7 coverage, has been deeply affected by it.

Lebron Soldier XII 12

Having just spent a week in Fukushima with a group of academic researchers studying the rebuilding and initial disaster response, I realize that what most of us face in our ordinary lives – as well as the issues facing the Club – pale in comparison.

That’s not to downplay our individual struggles and the issues that we must tackle during the Club’s 70th anniversary year. But we need to step back, take a deep breath and try to gain some perspective. The Club’s priorities, according to our Articles of Association, are to promote media access and coverage here and abroad, freedom of the press and fraternity among our members and foreign and Japanese journalists. In the past month, we acquitted ourselves fairly well in some of those areas.

We had a packed press conference with the editors of the two Okinawan newspapers singled out at a Liberal Democratic Party meeting to be “crushed” because their reporting didn’t hew to the policies of the current government and ruling party. The editors made an appearance at the FCCJ before visiting our rival across Hibiya Park – thanks to the efforts of our Professional Activities Committee staff and its members.

At the same time, I issued a statement in English and Japanese condemning the remarks at the LDP committee and calling on the administration and ruling party to better educate its officials and lawmakers on the vital and constitutionally guaranteed role that a free press plays in Japan.

Quick comments from the board and others on a draft statement and a fast translation into Japanese by one of the directors made that possible. The domestic press picked up the statement. And I took several interviews from national print and television media in Japanese – something I plan to do as much as possible to promote the Club and its mission – to discuss the statement and freedom of the press issues.

That series of actions over one day was a textbook example of what we – and maybe only the FCCJ – can do when we are focused on our core mission and work together.

There was even a bit of movement on one of the issues that has divided us. Some board members had a meeting with some of the plaintiffs from the so-called “Ex-Presidents’ Lawsuit” to listen to a presentation on their concerns. Hopefully, the dialogue will continue, and this will be the first step toward a resolution.

The board also made some progress, including a draft policy, on information disclosure and protecting confidential information. A final policy, however, will also need to take into account privacy, contractual obligations and long-running legal issues and require input from our counsel to ensure that it doesn’t add to our problems.

Looking ahead, the Club will hold its 70th anniversary dinner Oct. 30 at the Palace Hotel. Expected to draw 500 attendees, the event will celebrate our founding in 1945 and honor those that have made the intervening decades possible, especially the journalists that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

During the upcoming summer holidays, I hope that all of our Members and staff will be able to spend time with their family and friends, read a good book, catch a good movie, relax and stay safe in their travels. So, get rested; autumn promises to be a busy period for both the news and the Club as we approach our 70th milestone.

   — James Simms

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