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No1-2018-10 01 Robert Whiting 2.0

  

 

Dear members,

In the absence of President Peter Langan and First Vice President Abby Leonard, I am writing the last President’s Message to be issued from the Yurakucho Denki Building, home to the FCCJ since February 1976.
On Oct. 26, we begin the move into our new home on the 5th and 6th floors of the Marunouchi Nijubashi Building. Although we will lose our bird’s-eye view of the Yurakucho cityscape and the Imperial Palace grounds, we trust the ambience of the famed Nakadori, as well as all the benefits of a spanking new facility, will more than compensate.

It is with great nostalgia that I write this, given the many memorable events that have taken place here (particularly as I was front row witness to many of them). Among the famous individuals who visited were Muhammad Ali, Gina Lollabrigida, Ronald Reagan, Willie Nelson, a young and surprisingly articulate Donald Trump, actor Roger Moore of 007 fame and assorted Nobel laureates and heads of state too numerous to mention. Among Japanese, some of the most influential people in the nation gave press conferences here, including Shintaro Ishihara, Hideki Matsui, figure skaters Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu, actor Ken Watanabe, Tokyo governor-to-be Yuriko Koike, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, animation film director Hayao Miyazaki, and a host of others. Donald Richie and Ed Seidensticker introduced filmmaking and literary giants like Akira Kurosawa and Yasunori Kawabata, respectively.

Many members, I’m sure, remember the huge photograph of Marilyn Monroe in her birthday suit that occupied a wall in the old Stag Bar. There were villains, too: The Aum cult made several appearances at press conferences at the Club, pleading their innocence in the sarin attack of March 20, 1995, and accusing the government of targeting them because of their religious beliefs. And there was grace: One great moment in our “Denki Jidai” took place on Nov. 29, 1985, when the Crown Prince and Princess Michiko danced together at the Club’s 40th anniversary party in the Capital Tokyo Hotel.

During the Bubble Era, the world could not get enough news on Japan, and the journalists who frequented the FCCJ were in great demand – among them too many fascinating and diverse characters to name here. In the post-bubble era, however, as the Japanese juggernaut slowed and China’s economic clout grew, the dawn of digitalization and the decline of print journalism, combined with yet another financial crisis in 2008, proved to be the kiss of death for many foreign bureaus and their reporters. Illustrious names such as Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and the big TV networks: CBS, ABC and NBC downsized or closed their doors entirely, as a global readjustment in the news gathering industry transpired.

As the Yurakucho era comes to a close, we look forward to adding new and glorious chapters to our history in our new Marunouchi location. Stay tuned.

In other news, here are some highlights from the latest board meeting of Sept. 6, as provided by FCCJ Secretary Daniel Hurst:
The board endorsed our five-year business plan and action schedule so that the club has a clear direction for planning purposes. It moved forward with a review of membership categories and associated issues (the details will be refined at next month’s meeting and then the proposal will be put to members for a decision). The board also approved a plan to build new mailboxes at the new premises and dealt with a few other details related to the move. Finally, by majority vote, the board approved plans to begin posting on a bulletin board in the club the names of members who are four months or more in arrears on their accounts. Members will be encouraged to talk to the club about any special circumstances that should be taken into account; and the board must authorize each time names are to be posted.


Robert Whiting — 2nd Vice President

 

 

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