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The FCCJ is confronting multiple crucial challenges all at once. Start with the move to a nearby location in Marounochi. There’s been lots of talk about it and all I can add is to propose officially designating it as Japan’s Third Major Recent Move.

The first of the three big moves on a national scale has been dragging on since 1996 when Japan and the United States agreed to move Futenma base functions from Ginwan to Nago, both in Okinawa. Over the years, protests have never ceased but just now a new mayoral election in Nago may have provided the momentum, finally, to make this move happen.

Big Move Number Two on a Japanese national scale is the replacement of Tsukiji market. Concerns over the new site were raised on account of a chemical dump reported to have been operated there previously. Not long ago, the Tokyo government made its final decision and the move from Tsukiji is no longer an issue.

As for the FCCJ Move, although the general membership and successive boards decided to move, we still have to negotiate with our partner, Mitsubishi Estate, a compensation deal that will provide the club a safety net. We hope for a successful negotiation so that the move to one of the fanciest hubs in Tokyo won’t threaten the club finances. I hope all FCCJ members will stand behind the board in that endeavor so we can bring in the best possible deal.

Beyond the big move, another Club challenge is smoothing the outsourcing deal with our new food and beverage partner. We have passed the bumpy start and now all efforts by the Board and the Food and Beverage Committee are directed to making the best of the new arrangement so as to satisfy our historically high F&B standard. We used to have our in-house kitchen staff working directly for the Club under the General Manager. Previous boards changed this formula and now the task of overseeing the outsourced function is added to the daily work of all Board members. So the press club is very much involved now in crucial negotiations with both a real estate company and a catering company.

Add to those challenges the HR responsibility to find the right General Manager for our club. Fortunately the office and staff have been exerting great efforts following the departure of the former GM, and business is done smoothly. We expect to have a new GM before the new fiscal year 2018, to help us manage the logistics problems inherent in the move including negotiations with the outsourcing partner. All concerned are entering uncharted territory, even though we have been diligent in studying and researching to prepare ourselves.

Oh, and there is one more challenge. It is our publication, the Number 1 Shimbun. We are trying to set up a new track for this publication that takes into greater consideration the pressing need for cost-effectiveness.

There are two contending schools of thought. One argues that the members who contribute articles need to be paid since most journalists these days are so tightly pressed to make a living that they can’t afford to work for free.

The other school says paying members for articles is a violation of our bylaws and should be halted.
After all, in various Club committees members volunteer their time and professional knowledge. Take the Finance Committee, for example – an all-volunteer operation.

My personal view is that any such contribution by members to the club should not be paid for. This issue will be at the top of our agenda in days to come, as we take note of members’ replies to the current Number 1 Shimbun survey.

In closing, permit me a note about the weather. In this cold wave, the Club remains a warm haven for journalists. This happens thanks to the continuing support of the membership, for which I am much obliged and on account of which I feel honored to be in this position.

 

– Khaldon Azhari

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