THE FCCJ IS FACING an extraordinary dilemma regarding the proposed move to new premises.
A report from the Club Treasurer says that this move involves significantly increased rent charges and moving costs which cannot be safely met without raising monthly dues significantly.
Yet the Club could be exposed to a huge contract penalty if we opt not to move without obtaining our landlord Mitsubishi Estate’s understanding.
This is most frustrating and arises out of past Boards’ overemphasis on “confidentiality” instead of upholding our most basic mandatory rules. Now, the current Board has returned us to compliance and in light of this, you, the Regular voting members, must decide the FCCJ’s future at the March 8 GMM.
That’s why your full attendance and involvement is crucial.
To evaluate the problem, the Board empaneled an Audit Task Force chaired by former President Andrew Horvat and including financial expert and veteran banker Willem Kortekaas with decades of experience in such matters in Japan.
The crisis and our options are explained in detail in reports from the Treasurer and the Audit Task Force which have been sent to all regular members and at the GMM you will have the opportunity to question the Board and Audit Task Force directly.
According to the Audit Task Force report, the FCCJ must raise monthly dues by a maximum of ¥2,000 per member effective April 2017 to accomplish the move in October 2018 and remain solvent.
This will meet an already contracted 20 percent rent increase (¥17.4 million annually) plus moving costs including purchase and installation of furniture and IT equipment and paying a project manager – in all up to ¥100,000,000, and there is a pressing need to increase FCCJ’s cash balances and replenish the seriously underfunded employees’ retirement fund, according to the report.
I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to Treasurer Bob Whiting and his team and to the Audit Task Force for their dedication in preparing these reports.
The motion approving this ¥2000 raise has been made. Failure to approve it means that the FCCJ must reconsider the plan and seek to renegotiate a more favorable agreement with Mitsubishi. However, that agreement, signed on March 19, 2015 by the Birmingham Board (again without informing the membership of the details) commits the FCCJ to hundreds of millions of yen contract cancellation penalty. There is no Board consensus as to whether Mitsubishi would actually litigate or negotiate, but the penalty clause is valid should they choose to pursue it. And there are no quick fixes.
Some current Board members are more optimistic and feel that we could sustain the move financially with the proper policies. They will be able to share their perspectives and insights with you at the GMM as well.
I won’t mince words: Previous BODs and some BOD officers have, whatever their intentions, put the Club at risk of either becoming insolvent or putting it into litigation, according to warnings from the most of the Finance Committee members. They committed us to enormous increases in expenditures without informing us or obtaining required authorization, in contravention of Club By-Law 9-3 [any revenue disbursements exceeding ¥5 million must be approved by the GMM].
I also observe with concern that our kanjis throughout this period have failed to uphold their most basic obligations and prevent this from happening.
I appeal to the members to read the motion and documents carefully, come to the March 8 meeting, ask questions and vote for the best course for FCCJ. Now we are out of time so let's get this done at the GMM.
- Khaldon Azhari