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THE FCCJ GREETED 2016 with our traditional Hacks and Flacks Party, bringing correspondents and journalists together with foreign and Japanese dignitaries, business figures and PR managers who were invited to support better networking and sharing of information.

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The annual party, as always, was well attended – with drinks and food at hand.

This year marks yet another crucial one for the FCCJ as we strive to increase our membership numbers and strengthen our services to ensure the stability of this organization, both economically and professionally. To assist the Club in this important mission, I recently established an ad hoc Futures Committee, comprised of respected older journalists who will work with correspondents dabbling with online journalism. The Committee also includes associate members, invaluable members of the Club who bring legal and business talent to the table. Their numbers are increasing and no doubt they expect the future of our Club is to continue to be the dynamic journalist hub it has always been.

How this pans out in the next decade is an important challenge. As I have said previously, I believe the current diversity of our correspondent members is a solid platform to build a futuristic vision. An Asia Journalist Forum has also been formed, including correspondents from Taiwan, Singapore, Bangladesh and Vietnam, among others. Our new little group will provide a space in our Club for turning the spotlight on news in the region and will also act as a catalyst to increase the number of correspondents who are interested in this specific area. Indeed, the FCCJ’s koeki status is contributing to the global journalism debate.

Other important news is that we will soon be replacing the grand piano that has served our wonderful Club for so many decades. The purchase is being facilitated by a financial contribution from our dearly loved but now departed member, Chuck Lingam.

A sad but heart-warming event was the memorial held for former AP bureau chief Jim Lagier, who passed away in the U.S. last year at the age of 80. Friends and colleagues who had worked with him in the Tokyo bureau gathered at the Club for a memorial. It was a poignant evening, as those gathered reminisced not only about Jim’s remarkable charm but also used the moment to walk back down memory lane to a time when martinis were served late into the night to correspondents discussing the hard work of the day and their upcoming schedules. As Kaz Abiko, formerly with AP and a former president recalled a speech by Jim at the FCCJ 50th anniversary when he affectionately described correspondents in Tokyo as scallywags, articulate, petulant, caring and much more. And, two decades later, I have to agree with him.

 – Suvendrini Kakuchi

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