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To all FCCJ Members:

We are delighted to announce that Pen & Quill Restaurant will reopen for normal service hours on Monday, Sept 3, under the management of our new Food & Beverage provider, the Tokyu Group. The Main Bar will also return to a regular full menu.

You should already have received a short message announcing the Club's agreement with Tokyu Group.  International Restaurant Services, a 100%-owned subsidiary of the hotel, railway and department store group, was picked from a field of strong candidates. They bring impressive assets to the Club: our new Executive Chef, Tatsuo Kobayashi, most recently ran the kitchen at OROOM, a highly regarded French restaurant in Seoul, where he earned two stars in the Blue Ribbon Survey, South Korea's version of the Michelin guide. Early in his career, he competed twice on the Japanese cooking program "Iron Chef". Mr.Kobayashi is already making plans to install an authentic pizza oven in the Club and to begin baking fresh bread on-site. (Please see short biographies of Mr Kobayashi and Toshikazu Shichinohe, our new F&B manager, below.)

Outsourcing management of the bar and restaurant will allow us to move forward with our reincorporation as a public interest association (koeki shadan hojin). It will also bring financial benefits. Tokyu Group will pay the Club a deposit of Y25m, which we will be able to use to defray transition costs, and has agreed to invest up to Y15m in new tableware, linens and kitchen equipment. The Club will keep 10% of F&B revenues as a commission, starting immediately.

Tokyu staff and managers are already hard at work in the Club preparing for the handover. Inevitably, there will be speed bumps early on. Among the staff, members should recognize some familiar faces from the "old" F&B operation, but many others will be new, and it will take time to learn our names and our preferences. But we are
convinced that Tokyu Group is up to the task, and is committed to being a  friendly long-term partner for the Club. As promised, decisions about menus and pricing will be made jointly by Tokyu Group and the Club, through the Food & Beverage Committee.

To demonstrate their goodwill and showcase their talents, Tokyu Group is offering 240 members a free meal at the Pen & Quill. Application details and dates will follow shortly.

The decision to outsource was a difficult one, but we believe the Club will be better off for having taken it, and once again we thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

George Baumgartner
President
FCCJ Board of Directors

Bios

Tatsuo Kobayashi
Executive Chef

Mr Kobayashi began his career in 1992 at Queen Alice, a chain of fine-dining restaurants founded by the renowned chef Yutaka Ishinabe.
He has worked as Executive Chef at several Queen Alice locations, including the main restaurant in Nishi-azabu and the Pan Pacific Hotel in Yokohama.

Since October 2009, Mr Kobayashi has been Executive Chef at OROOM DINING, an upscale French restaurant in Seoul. While there, he served banquets for the leaders of top Asian companies including Toyota, Hyundai, LG Group and Samsung. In December 2011, he was awarded two stars by the Blue Ribbon Survey, South Korea's version of the Michelin guide.

Even while in Seoul, Mr Kobayashi travelled to Japan to organize large corporate banquets at hotels such as the New Otani and the Westin. He also appears on TV shows and at food events. In 1995, he competed on the internationally known Japanese cooking show "Iron Chef", defeating the chef of a one-star French restaurant and scoring a draw against a three-star opponent.

FCCJ-Chef-Kobayashi-1

Toshikazu Shichinohe
Food & Beverage Manager

Mr Shichinohe is a qualified sommelier who got his start at the Dai-Ichi Hotel Tokyo Bay in 1989. In 1994, he joined Nippon Yusen Group aboard Asuka, Japan's best known luxury cruise liner, where he trained staff and held wine seminars for passengers. In 1997, he moved to Kihachi, the French-Asian fusion restaurant in Ginza, as operations manager and sommelier. His duties included organizing wedding banquets, establishing an efficient work system, educating staff, creating the wine list, and handling financial planning and reporting.

Mr Shichinohe joined International Restaurant Service in 2004 to oversee the creation of two restaurants at the newly opened Chubu International Airport, near Nagoya. In 2010, he moved to the Oedo Onsen Group as General Manager of the company's Kinugawa Hotel, a hot-springs resort in Tochigi Prefecture, where he oversaw daily operations and was involved in business and budget planning. After the earthquake last year, he moved back to International Restaurant Service as manager of Queen Alice Garden Terrace in Yokohama.

OPERATION HOURS

 

WEEKDAYS

SATURDAYS

SUNDAYS

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

PEN& QUILL

DINING ROOM

11:45AM~2:30PM

6PM~10PM

(Last Order 9PM)

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

MAIN BAR

11AM~10:30PM

(Last Order 10PM)

11:00AM~10PM

(Last Order 9PM)

11:00AM~8PM

(Last Order 7:30PM)

11:00AM~9PM

(Last Order 8PM)

MASUKOMI

SUSHI BAR

11:45AM~2PM

5:30PM~10PM

(Last Order 9:30PM)

11:45AM~2PM

5:30PM~9PM

(Last Order 8PM)

CLOSED

CLOSED

                To all FCCJ Members:

会長からのメッセージ

 会員の皆様へ

 9月3日(月曜日)より「ペン&クイル ダイニングルーム」は、全面的に営業を再開致します。 「メイン・バー」は、皆様にご愛顧頂いておりました「通常メニュー」、営業時間も完全復帰します。 既にお知らせ致しました通り、社団法人日本外国特派員協会(FCCJ)は、東急グループのインターナショナル・レストラン・サービス社と料飲(F&B)部門の業務委託契約を締結しました。同社は、電鉄・デパート・ホテルなど多数の営業部門を持つ総合企業である東急グループの一員であり、100%資本系列会社です。今回の新規委託事業にあたり同社からFCCJには、多くの優れた人材・資産をご提供頂くこととなりました。まず、エグゼクティブ・シェフ(総料理長)に就任する小林氏は、ソウルにおける韓国版ミシュラン2つ星獲得の高級フランス料理レストラン「OROOM」からの配属となります。著名なテレビ番組「料理の鉄人」にて、そのタイトルを2度も争った経験をもつ同氏は、F&B サービス全般の改善準備を進めており、ピザ・オーブンの導入、パン焼き製造の復活などが決定しています。

9月1日からのインターナショナル・レストラン・サービス社への業務委託は、FCCJが「公益社団法人」資格の申請のため、大きく前進することとなります。理事会では、早急に申請準備業務を進め、新しいFCCJの誕生のため全力で努力を続けます。この過程のなか、会員皆様には多大なご迷惑とご心配をおかけ致しましたこと、お詫び申し上げます。皆様のご理解を重ねてお願いします。

今回の業務委託により、FCCJは財政的にも大きなメリットを確保することができます。事業委託開始にあたり金2,500万円がFCCJへの預託金となり、公益法人改革に伴う諸費用支出を補うことが可能となるでしょう。またF&B部門充実費用としてインターナショナル・レストラン・サービス社は、総額1,500万円とする食器類、テーブルクロスなどリネン類、キッチン設備および備品のため初期投資を行う予定です。そしてFCCJは、業務委託したF&B関連収入の10%を業務委託料として受領することとなり、これは直ちに開始されます。東急グループからのスタッフたちは、すでに事業移行準備のため毎日激務を続けており、早期に業務の安定化が進むと考えます。皆様になじみ深い現従業員については、できるだけ多数の者を採用されるべく最大限のご尽力をお願いしてきたところです。当初は、新しいスタッフのもとでのサービスご提供が主体となりますが、どうぞ今後のサービス向上にご期待頂きますようお願いします。これまで会員皆様からのお尋ねの多くは、業務委託後のメニュー決定、価格設定などについてでした。これらは、すべてF&B委員会での決定により行うこととなり、FCCJおよび会員皆様の意向が反映できることが約束されています。

業務開始にあたり東急グループよりいくつかの特典が提案されております。最初に、会員240名を対象とするペン&クイルダイニングルームでの「小林エグゼクティブ・シェフによる試食会」が開催されます。詳細については、近日中にご案内します。また東急グループ系列各社における会員皆様の利用について、数々の特典が付与されることとなっています。業務委託については、大変重大かつ困難な決定でした。しかし私たちは、今回の決定と委託化により、皆様によりよいサービスをご提供できると確信しています。

 

皆様のご協力とご支援を心より重ねてお願い申し上げます。

 

社団法人日本外国特派員協会 会長

ジョージ・バウムガルトナー

理事会 一同

August 29, 2012

To All Members:

Message from the President

We are pleased to announce that The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan has today concluded an agreement with International Restaurant Services Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of the Tokyu Group.

Effective Saturday, September 1, 2012, the operations of the Food and Beverage department will be outsourced to International Restaurant Services, Inc.

As we move our club towards the status of a 'Koeki Houjin', or public interest organization, there will be several changes going forward.  We will send you further information shortly, but wanted to let you know of this first step.

Thank you for your continued support of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Georges Baumgartner
President

社団法人日本外国特派員協会は本日(2012年8月29日)、東急グループのインターナショナル・レストラン・サービス社と、業務委託契約を締結致しました。

9月1日(土曜日)より、同社において料飲(F&B)部門の営業を全面再開します。

公益社団法人資格申請のための外部委託化の過程において、皆様に多大なご迷惑をおかけ致しましたことお詫び申し上げます。

締結の業務委託契約、インターナショナル・レストラン・サービス社、9月1日よりの営業詳細などにつきましては、後刻お知らせします。

皆様のさらなるご協力とご支援をお願いし、今後のF&B部門にご期待下さいますようお願い申し上げます。

社団法人日本外国特派員協会
会長 ジョージ・バウムガードナー

 

July 20, 2012

To All Members:

Message from the President

Following up on my notice of July 11, in which I announced that the Board is looking for a candidate to outsource future F&B operations, we began curtailing our existing F&B operations in July.

The club's top HR policy is to protect the jobs of 17 "Regular" employees. To this end, we have proposed a "Voluntary Early Retirement" program and several individuals have accepted. It goes without saying that we wish to thank them for their long and loyal service.

We extended the three-month contracts of all "Contract" employees on April 1. As a result of the changing situation and negotiations with the union, we have extended those contracts by an additional one month, until the end of July.

We have granted "Part-time" employees "Special Paid Leave" for one month during July.

F&B Regular and Contract employees who wish to remain with the club, management has offered to relocate them to non-F&B jobs and is in the process of conducting interviews.

To phase out the club's own F&B operations, we have terminated the contracts of "F&B Contract" and "F&B Part-Time" employees. According to club Work Rules and our attorney, the Board is not required to offer these employees a retirement allowance. However, in recognition of the difficult situation that some individuals are facing, the Board has created a "Special Retirement Allowance" and will ask some members of staff to continue to work for another month, beginning August 1.

We truly do not have a precise number of positions that will be retained at this time, but we are fighting to protect every single job.
 
Management will issue a notice about F&B operations in August in the near future and operational decisions will be made in conjunction with our negotiations with the union.

In closing, we ask for your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Georges Baumgartner,
FCCJ President

e-mail:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


会長からのメッセージ

会員の皆様へ
 
 暑中お見舞い申し上げます。
 本日は、ヒューマン・リソースに関わる現況をお知らせします。
 7月11日付けの会長からお知らせの通り、協会では新しい外部委託先企業の選択作業中です。そして、「正社員の雇用を確保」を優先事項と定め、料飲(F&B)部門の段階的縮小策を進めています。
 
 6月下旬より正社員17名への「希望退職募集」を実施し、複数の方々より応募がありました。協会を代表して、長年のご勤務に感謝申し上げます。
 
 また7月中旬まで、F&B部門の正社員および契約社員を対象として、非F&B部門職募集を行いました。複数の応募があり、採用へ向けて数次の面接が進められています。
 
 さて、契約社員およびパート従業員につきましては、外部委託準備のため4月1日より3ヵ月間の雇用契約としました。しかし、当初計画の変更、さらに組合(ユニオン・オブ・プレスクラブ)との団体交渉により、1ヵ月間の契約延長となりました。さらに7月を「就職支援策」期間と定め、契約社員には有給での「特別休暇」取得、パート従業員には勤務免除を認めました。現在、契約社員たちは「特別休暇」を活用して、再就職活動に励んでいます。
 
 社内異動の選考中のため人数は未定ですが、F&B部門契約社員およびパート従業員の多くは、7月末日にて契約終了となります。これらの方々について、「就業規則」では退職金の定めはありません。しかし協会では、ご勤務への感謝として「特別退職一時金」の制度を設けました。また、協会業務に必要と判断した方々につきましては、8月1日以降の雇用契約を締結しました。
 
  協会は組合との団体交渉を誠実に取り組んでいます。今後も労使話し合いによる解決を目指し、努力を続けます。8月1日からのF&B部門の営業予定につきましては、組合との交渉の進展にもよりますので、近くマネジメントからご連絡申し上げます。

 会員皆様にはご不便をおかけ致しますが、ご理解の程お願い申し上げます。ご質問・ご意見などございましたら、下記宛てにご連絡下さい。
 
社団法人日本外国特派員協会
会長 ジョージ・バウムガルトナー

連絡先: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 会員皆様にはご不便をおかけ致しますが、ご理解の程お願い申し上げます。ご質問・ご意見などございましたら、下記宛てにご連絡下さい。
 
社団法人日本外国特派員協会
会長 ジョージ・バウムガルトナー
 
連絡先: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 

 

July 11, 2012

To: All Members,

FCCJ President Message on Restaurant Alaska:

I would like to share with you updates on the Board's continued efforts toward outsourcing.

The Board has confirmed the cancellation of the Memorandum of Agreement with Alaska, signed on February 27th. This action automatically cancels the Board Resolution giving Alaska first priority in our outsourcing negotiations. 

Going forward, the Board will select appropriate candidates for an outsourcing partner and pursue negotiations as quickly as possible. 

I would like to ask all members for your full support and cooperation. Let's hope we are on our way to resolving the FCCJ's most urgent long-term challenge.

Georges Baumgartner
President

会員の皆様へ

 協会では、「公益社団法人」資格の申請のため、料飲(F&B)部門を外部委託とする方針を定め、努力を続けてきました。
 今般、株式会社アラスカより外部委託に関する「覚書」(2012年2月27日調印)の解約申出がありました。理事会では、同社の解約申出を受諾し、優先的交渉先とした先の理事会決議の取消を決定しました。
 新しい外部委託先については、適正条件による緊急の選定作業を進めており、今後適時にお知らせします。
 皆様には、ご理解とご協力をお願い申し上げます。

  会長 ジョージ・バウムガルトナー

 

From Freedom of the Press Committee:
FCCJ protest expulsion of Al-Jazeera reporter Melissa Chan from China

May 9, 2012

His Excellency Mr. Cheng Yonghua
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Japan
3-4-33, Moto-Azabu,
Minato-ku, Tokyo
106-0046

Dear Mr. Cheng

On behalf of the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan and its Freedom of the Press Committee, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan notes with grave concern the reported expulsion of Melissa Chan, a reporter with TV network Al-Jazeera, from the People's Republic of China. According to many sources, Ms. Chan's press credentials have not been renewed and she has been forced to leave her office in Beijing. We understand that her expulsion means that Al-Jazeera will be forced to close its Beijing bureau.

We are of course aware that the Chinese government, like any other, has the right to revoke visas to foreign nationals as it sees fit. However, we believe that there must be very compelling reasons for expelling a working journalist. China's government has so far not made these reasons known to the world, merely accusing Ms. Chan of violating unspecified 'rules.' In the absence of such information, most observers are likely to conclude that her expulsion is political.

While China has made enormous and welcome strides over the last decade toward openness in how it deals with the foreign media, there are also regular and worrying reports of lack of cooperation, intimidation and even violence against reporters and bureaus. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, of which Ms. Chan was a board member, notes a recent pattern of using journalist visas to "censor and intimidate" foreign correspondents. The FCCJ unreservedly condemns such intimidation.

We humbly suggest that it is in China's own interests to ensure that foreign reporters are allowed to carry out their work in your country, and that they receive every cooperation in doing so. Suspicions that China is being less than fair in its dealing with the foreign media could harm the nation's business and political interests abroad. We strongly urge, therefore, that you rescind your decision on Ms. Chan's visa and allow her back into the country to do her job.

Yours Sincerely

Georges Baumgartner
President
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

A MESSAGE TO ALL FCCJ MEMBERS

Dear FCCJ members,

The General Membership on March 14 voted overwhelmingly - 64 to eight - in favor of a resolution proposed by the Board to gain Koeki Shadan Hojin Status for the FCCJ and to outsource our food and beverage operations. The move towards Koeki, or Public Interest Incorporated Association Status, is in line with a change to the Japanese law regulating non-profit organizations. Securing this status, we believe, will protect and enhance the journalistic practices of the FCCJ, and with it our support for a free press and democratic society in Japan.

With the help of expert advice, we will work to successfully meet the final deadline set for November 2013.

After more than 67 years of existence, FCCJ management is now undergoing a major transformation - some people may call it a revolution. I would describe the steps we are taking as critical and necessary to protect the survival of our beloved FCCJ while meeting the challenges of fast-changing world.

The GMM has approved the following resolution:

Resolution

In order to qualify as a public interest association (koeki shadan hojin) as resolved by the GMM in December 2011, and to address longstanding financial and operational problems, the FCCJ shall outsource its food and beverage operation. To that end:

1. The Board of Directors is authorized to negotiate and conclude an outsourcing agreement with a candidate of its choosing;

2. The preferred candidate, as of March 2012, shall be Alaska. Exclusive negotiations shall be carried out with Alaska based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2012

Thank you very much for your support.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

日本外国特派員協会の皆さまへ

2012年3月16日
会長ジョージ・バウムガルトナー

日本外国特派員協会(FCCJ)は、2012年3月14日に開かれた総会において、新たに施行された法律のもとで公益社団法人の認定を申請し、レストラン及びバー部門(F&B部門)を閉鎖して外部委託するとの理事会の決議案を、64対8の圧倒的多数で可決しました。

新たに施行された社団法人制度では、一般社団法人と公益社団法人に分かれ、来年11月30日までにいずれかへの移行を申請しなければなりません。公益法人を選択したのは、報道の自由を守るFCCJの活動が、情報の自由な流れ、言論の自由などに寄与し、ひいてはそれが自由で民主的な社会の公益に寄与していると考えるからです。

これから、さまざまな分野の専門家のアドバイスを仰ぎながら、2013年11月の締め切りに間に合うよう移行準備を始めることになります。

創立以来67年を経て、FCCJの組織はいま、大きな変貌を遂げようとしています。革命的な変革だと言う人もいるでしょう。私としては、われわれがとろうとしている重要な手段は、刻々と変化している世界の動きに対応し、われわれが誇りに思うFCCJを守り、末永く活動し続けていくために緊要で必要な措置だと思っています。総会で採択された決議文は以下のとおりです。

2011年12月のFCCJ総会で決議された公益社団法人の条件を満たすために、そしてレストラン&バー部門(F&B部門)の長年にわたる財政的かつ運営上の諸問題に対処するために、FCCJはF&B部門を業務委託する。この目的のために:

1. 理事会に対し、同理事会が選ぶ候補企業と業務委託契約を交渉し、締結する権限を与える;

2. 2012年3月の時点で(理事会によって)選択された企業はアラスカであり、アラスカと2012年2月に調印された覚書に基づいて排他的な交渉を始めるものとする。

皆様のご支援に感謝致します。

Dear FCCJ member,

The Board of Directors has reached an important decision regarding the future of our food and beverage operations, as part of the Club's effort to register as a Public Interest organization under amended Japanese laws. For the full text of today's announcement and a data presentation, please see the links below at the Club web site.

Sincerely,

Georges Baumgartner
President

Text - English
http://fccj.or.jp/documents/FCCJPresidentMsgE.pdf

Text - Japanese
http://fccj.or.jp/documents/FCCJPresidentMsgJ.pdf

Data - English
http://fccj.or.jp/documents/FCCJdataE.pdf

Data - Japanese
http://fccj.or.jp/documents/FCCJdataJ.pdf

Oct.25, 2011

To: All Members,

SUBJECT: Message from the FCCJ President on Club affairs

Dear FCCJ Members,

The FCCJ has worked hard to improve its financial situation and prepare for its new "shadan hojin" legal status. These reforms forced us to eliminate many "manager" titles and allowances that had spiraled out of control for years, which Club can not afford.

Although the Club continues its collective bargaining with the union, several employees recently sued the FCCJ in the Tokyo District Court. (No change in service is expected while the case is heard.)

The FCCJ Board wants to best possible Club for all stakeholders, and in particular the staff, who make the Club such a delightful and efficient place. Yet FCCJ members, staff, and partners can only benefit from a Club that is on a sustainable financial and operational footing -- which is the reason for the reforms.

As a result, the Club will vigorously defend itself in the lawsuit to ensure the wellbeing of the institution to which we all are dedicated. I will keep you updated on the situation.

Respectfully yours,

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

クラブの情勢についての会長からのメッセージ

会員各位

社団法人日本外国特派員協会(FCCJ)では、協会財政状況の改善、そして社団法人制度改革での「新法人格」取得のため努力を続けております。特に近年は、正規従業員と非正規従業員との待遇格差の是正、将来を担う中堅従業員の育成なども含め、業務執行体制と人事制度などの改革を進めてきました。また従来、多くの従業員が「マネージャー」などの職位と手当を受けておりましたが、その適正な削減を行いました。

これらについて協会は、従来より労働組合との団体交渉を継続しておりました。しかしこの度、複数の従業員より東京地方裁判所に提訴が行われました。

理事会は一連の諸改革が、FCCJの輝かしい伝統あるすばらしい雰囲気の場を創り出してきた従業員が、将来も多くの恩恵を享受できる正常な経営状態とするべく実行されたと考えます。

結論として申し上げますと、協会は本件訴訟について適正な対応を執ることとします。
今後とも、協会の会員皆様、従業員なすべての関係者が、更なる協会の繁栄を享受できるよう一層努力する所存です。今後も会員皆様には、適時にご報告申し上げます。

以上、ご報告のみ申し上げます。

社団法人日本外国特派員協会
会長 ジョージ・バウムガルトナー

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July 28, 2011

New Management for Our F&B Operations

The most heated issue in our June election, and in recent General Membership Meetings, was the proposal to outsource the management our food & beverage (F&B) operations.

I have been a firm advocate of outsourcing, an initiative that originated in our Improvement Committee, and validated by a GMM in May. But having worked hard to listen to other points of view during the election, I am pleased to report we have a new solution that I hope will draw support from both members and staff.

Instead of outsourcing F&B we are bringing in seasoned professional managers under contract - an arrangement I suppose we might call "insourcing." We must give credit for this to Nakamura-san, our General Manager.

We have signed a contract with Tokyu Hotels for the dispatch an "Executive F&B Manager" and an "Executive Chef" to manage our F&B operations – with full authority – for an initial six-month period. If both sides are satisfied at that point, the intent is to extend the relationship for a longer term.

Under a "temporary transfer agreement," two senior staff from Tokyu Hotels are joining us before the end of July.

Nobuyoshi Kashima, our new executive chef, is responsible for all that happens in the kitchen. We are hopeful that Kashima-san will make the kitchen more efficient. But as the old saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding." So we can look forward to tasting the new dishes he will introduce as well as improvements to our favorites.

Masatoshi Okamoto, our new Executive F&B Manager, will be responsible for service in the bar, restaurant and banquet rooms; budgeting and procurement; staffing and training; safety and sanitation; among other functions. At meal times you can expect to encounter him greeting guests at the door.

As both our new managers have extensive experience at Tokyu's two high-end Tokyo hotels, Capitol Tokyu and Cerulean Tower, they are accustomed to providing a superior level of service.

We hope this new relationship with Tokyu Hotels will benefit the Club in many ways as it develops – for example, lower procurement prices and perhaps discounts for our members at the 54 Tokyu Hotel properties around Japan.

I would ask all members to give Messrs. Kashima and Okamoto a warm welcome and your full support in their new roles. With this initiative, let's hope we are on our way to resolving the FCCJ's most urgent long-term challenge.

Georges Baumgartner
President
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

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May 11 2011

FCCJ President's Letter on Club Reform

Dear Members,

I am writing to inform you -- and to get your support -- about an important decision that members need to make about FCCJ operations.

At a special General Membership Meeting on May 26, the board will ask Members to approve a resolution for a six-month trial to outsource the management of our food and beverage (F&B) operation. It is imperative that members are aware of the issue in advance, and come prepared to discuss -- and decide -- the matter. (The quarterly GMM in April barely achieved a quorum and it was decided to have a dedicated meeting to discuss this issue specifically, along with a "town hall meeting" with staff.)

The FCCJ's financial difficulties have been documented for months in the board minutes, monthly financial statements and President's Message in the No. 1 Shimbun. More details will be presented at the meeting, but the core problem is this: the Club loses too much money every year from the F&B operation, and hiring professional managers to fix it has proven impossible. Unless steps are taken immediately to turn the problem around, the losses threaten the financial viability and operations of the Club.

It may be astonishing to hear, but with each drink we serve and every meal we prepare, the FCCJ loses money. This has been going on for years. And frankly, it is not, in itself, a major cause for alarm: the losses get subsidized by members' dues. Previous FCCJ boards acted perfectly responsibly in performing this resourceful accounting. After all, we're a private club, not a business.

The problem is that the situation has been left to fester for so long that what was once acceptable has become intolerable. Two things change the debate. First, better accounting procedures have revealed that the losses are more than previously understood. Second, the Club's revenues are shrinking not growing, making the shortfall a massive liability with no end in sight.

A way to think about this is that the FCCJ's problems are a mirror to the challenges faced by Japan broadly. The demographics of the membership is aging, declining and Club revenues are dropping -- and this is unlikely to change. Meanwhile, just as Japan's leaders rely on government bonds to paper-over budgetary shortfalls, the FCCJ does the same by subsidizing F&B from funds meant for other expenses. Japanese politicians "recycle" household savings -- we "pickpocket" Members' dues.

This situation is toxic and must end. At its most basic level it is unfair. Yet on a practical level, it means we divert money from other areas that need it. We're strangling ourselves. Three examples illustrate the point.

First, we cannot afford basic infrastructure maintenance such as fixing the heating and air-con system, which has been neglected for years. The board recently needed to temporarily increase monthly dues to pay for it. Second, we cannot hire a general manager in part because the sum set aside for a salary, 15 million yen, got halved when other expenses cropped up. Third, to meet expenses last year we needed to dip into Members' "deposits" (held in escrow against bill non-payment that is returned when they leave). And this is to say nothing about paying for regular improvements to the premises, which are routinely ignored. The Club operates with no financial reserves.

Fixing the F&B disaster is critical because it is just one of many difficulties facing the FCCJ. We must confront reality: the institution is in decline due to forces larger than it. For most Members, the Club today is a pale imitation of the one they joined years ago. The membership is older, and it is hard to attract new, younger members and women. Tokyo has fewer foreign correspondents, and expense budgets for entertaining has been slashed. Many journalists and media professionals see no need to join. Food quality and service is often below what is available just outside the building. Club facilities are shoddy. Our banqueting business, once a cash cow, has plummeted. The FCCJ has lacked proper management for almost two years. Now we can neither attract, nor afford to hire, a qualified General-Manager.

The question is not whether we need to act, but how. Lots of things deserve review, but because the biggest worry is F&B, that is where we must begin. Over the past nine months the FCCJ Board of Directors, along with a specially appointed "Improvement Committee" comprised of experts from among Associate Members, has studied the problem and considered different solutions.

Their analysis and recommendations will be presented at the GMM. But in order to have an informed discussion, the general outline is this: the Board resolution calls for partially outsourcing the management of our F&B operations for a six-month trial. Some key nuances, which have been sent to Members in a separate email, is this:
* This is NOT "outsourcing F&B" -- it is outsourcing the "management," which means a small team of seasoned professionals to oversee procurement, scheduling, financial performance, menu, service quality and sanitation.
* No one will be pushed out of a job (this is specifically stated in the draft resolution).
* The shift is not forever, but a temporary trial.
* The outsourcing partner will be subjected to continual surveillance by the Board and the Membership so we can judge if the process is right for us, or discontinued if need be -- or expanded.

The background is this: we met with the top hotels, restaurants, and F&B management companies in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. Most rejected our informal queries for help -- we're considered a bad bet. One firm, M&M of Osaka, which runs F&B for organizations such as golf clubs and an NTT subsidiary, expressed interest. For the past three months two of its managers have worked at the FCCJ, scrutinized our F&B, recommended improvements and submitted bi-monthly reports in English and Japanese that were available to Members. (Please go to the front desk to get hard copies if you haven't seen them, or the FCCJ website.) In particular, M&M can help with procurement -- a black box we never managed to control. And it can handle scheduling, overtime, haizen (servers brought from outside for a few hours), as well as work with the union to cut overtime, control costs and provide staff training to improve efficiency and service.

To some, the idea of outsourcing F&B management seems basic and inoffensive -- after all, this is how companies have tapped specialty skills for decades. (Even the guards and receptionists at ministries in Kasumigaseki are from third-party firms, not government employees.) To cynics, it seems like "too little, too late." But to others, outsourcing is a "religious" issue -- opposed simply because it sounds bad, on par with anthrax or shark attacks. And some simply resist change because it's different.

We are all FCCJ members -- part of a family of sorts -- and we can have a spirited family debate about the future. We can appreciate disagreement and maintain respect with those whom we differ. But what we absolutely cannot have is inactivity due to passivity, wishful thinking or a blind preference for the status quo.

Is this toe-in-the-water outsourcing approach the best way forward? Absolutely not. The best thing would not to be in this disaster in the first place. But it is hard to see how the problem can realistically be addressed without a creative overhaul. Should food quality, service or revenue fall, the next FCCJ Board can halt it and try something else. If things improve, this is designed to be a stepping stone for handing M&M more responsibilities.

But without this six month trial, the direction we are headed will lead to the Club's decay, if not demise. We owe this reform to ourselves -- and to our dedicated staff, who has watched the problems fester for years, as Boards come and go like tides, while nothing gets fixed.

Indeed, the very lack of attendance at the April GMM is the strongest argument in favor of this approach: it highlights the inherent difficulty in having the Membership monitor Club operations -- underscoring the need to put in place more substantial mechanisms. And although the Club's General Manager does not need GMM approval to begin the six-month trial, the Board wants to bring the matter to the General Members for their support.

Improving F&B is a major part of placing the FCCJ on a healthy course so that it can continue to offer its services in the future. Unless the financial crisis is fixed, the Club faces a "Doomsday" scenario -- mentioned previously in other settings -- to consolidate the Club onto a single floor, scale back the library, halve the restaurant/bar area, menu, and hours of operation, and reduce staff. It is riveting yet plausible.

For this reason the Board asks the Membership to attend the GMM meeting prepared to discuss and approve the resolution. Also, we ask you to consider deepening your commitment to the FCCJ by serving on committees or standing for election to the Board of Directors in June.

Yours truly,

Georges Baumgartner
President, FCCJ, on behalf of the Board of Directors

May 2011

FCCJ President's Message to Members on Club's food & beverage (F&B) operations

(ONLY REGULAR MEMBERS CAN ATTEND GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING)

Dear Members,

I am writing to inform you -- and to get your support -- about an important decision that members need to make about FCCJ operations.

At a special General Membership Meeting on May 26, the Board will ask Members to approve a resolution for a six-month trial to partially outsourcing the management of our F&B operations.

Some key nuances:
* This is NOT "outsourcing F&B" -- it is outsourcing the "management," which means a small team of seasoned professionals to oversee procurement, scheduling, financial performance, menu, service quality and sanitation.
* No one will be pushed out of a job (this is specifically stated in the draft resolution).
* The shift is not forever, but a temporary trial.
* The outsourcing partner will be subjected to continual surveillance by the Board and the Membership so we can judge if the process is right for us, or discontinued if need be -- or expanded.

It is imperative that members are aware of the issue in advance, and come prepared to discuss -- and decide -- the matter. (The quarterly GMM in April barely achieved a quorum, and it was decided to have a dedicated meeting to discuss this issue specifically, along with a "town hall meeting" with staff.)

Improving F&B is a major part of placing the FCCJ on a healthy course so that it can continue to offer its services in the future. Unless the financial crisis is fixed, the Club faces a "Doomsday" scenario -- mentioned previously in other settings -- to consolidate the Club onto a single floor, scale back the library, halve the restaurant/bar area, menu, and hours of operation, and reduce staff. It is riveting yet plausible. The FCCJ's financial difficulties have been documented for months in the Board minutes, monthly financial statements and President's Message in the No. 1 Shimbun.

The question is not whether we need to act, but how. Lots of things deserve review, but because the biggest worry is F&B, that is where we must begin. Over the past nine months the FCCJ Board of Directors, along with a specially appointed "Improvement Panel" comprised of experts from among Associate Members, has studied the problem and considered different solutions.

Below is an outline of the issues, Improvement Panel timeline, and F&B proposal:

PROBLEMS:
* The Club loses too much money every year from the F&B operation.
* Unless steps are taken immediately turn the problem around, the losses threaten the financial viability and operations of the Club.
* With each drink we serve and every meal we prepare, the FCCJ loses money.
* Hiring professional managers to fix the F&B operation has proven impossible.
* Demographics of the membership is aging and declining

PROCESS:
* Mid-July 2010: Improvement Panel formed to explore ways in which to improve the operations and bottom line of the club. The focus turned to F&B and HR, which had been identified as the areas that most heavily contributed to overall losses of the past few years.

* Early August 2010: Panel set out to identify the priorities. These were quickly defined as the implementation of leadership and sound management. The recent history of the club lent itself to a highly politicized and fragmented structure of HR and management, in which executive decision-making and accountability were seldom in evidence. The Panel noted that the choices to improve the situation would be:
1) To pursue conventional GM search and leave the fixing to him/her.
2) To promote from within.
3) To outsource all or part of the F&B
4) Second a management team.

* Sept. 2010 to Present: Panel met with over a dozen top hotels, restaurants, and F&B management companies in Tokyo and elsewhere to explore the viability of all of the above, and source potential partnerships. Some of these companies included Global Dining, Tokyo Kaikan, Imperial Hotel, and Royal Park. Most rejected our informal queries for help -- the Club is considered a bad bet.

* Sept. 2010: M&M Service Co. Ltd. (http://www.mandm.co.jp) based in Osaka was brought to our attention as a company which had enjoyed considerable success in turning around the operations of hotels and restaurants.

* Jan. to March 2011: M&M was hired as 'observer' in the bar and kitchen to report on areas of improvement in our operations and management. They submitted bi-monthly reports in English and Japanese from Nov. 1, 2010 to Jan. 31, 2011. Their final report was completed and circulated to the Board in March this year. All the reports are available to Members. Please go to the front desk to get hard copies if you haven't seen them, or the FCCJ website.

* March 3, 2011: All Members "town hall" meeting on outsourcing.

* April 2011: Choices for a trial 'secondment' of two managers were narrowed down to M&M and RH Co. Ltd. (RH was purchased by SUBLIME Ltd. in April.) Mr. Pierre Boudry, head of SBA Ltd. business consultants (http://www.sbaltd.com/en/) was representing RH in the negotiations.

* April 13, 2011 BOD Mtg: The Panel's consensus was to recommend a 6-month contract with M&M to send a manager for the bar and restaurant, as well as the kitchen. In particular, M&M can help with procurement, and it can handle scheduling, overtime, haizen (temporary waiters brought from outside), as well as work with the union to cut overtime, control costs and provide staff training to improve efficiency and service.

* TBD on either May 19, 20, 23 or 24 from 3:00 to 4:00pm: Employees "town hall" meeting on outsourcing.

PROPOSAL:
For a six-month trial period, bring in a small team of seasoned professionals from M&M to oversee procurement, scheduling, financial performance, menu, service quality and sanitation.

BOD DRAFT RESOLUTION:
That M&M be appointed to second to FCCJ two managers of whom one shall be an F&B operations manager and one shall be an executive chef for a period of six months. M&M shall receive a gross monthly amount to be negotiated by the board.

M&M duties will include the following:
* Management of staff including work schedule, overtime, training, haizen,
* Sanitation control of F&B.
* Procurement of food and beverages.
* Menu
* And other related matters

No regular employees will be forced to resign during the six-month period. M&M shall report directly to the General Manager and the Board. The Board may negotiate with M&M to extend or modify the agreement at a later time. The current and subsequent boards will closely monitor and continue to discuss the process taking into account the implications on the Club's Shadan Hojin status.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Board is asking all Regular Members to attend this vitally important May 26 GMM meeting to discuss and approve the resolution.

Yours truly,

Georges Baumgartner
President, FCCJ, on behalf of the Board of Directors

December 2010

INDIVIDUALLY, THE VOICES OF OUR WORKING-PRESS members are heard around the world. Collectively, though, our voice barely carries beyond the Club. Our website attracts fewer than 500 visitors a day. No.1 Shimbun is distributed only to members. And as mentioned in my October message, declining global interest in Japan means PAC events now generate less coverage than in the past.

To ensure the FCCJ’s sustainability, we need to communicate more effectively with external audiences. Generally, we need to raise our stature and profile in Japanese society and among the world’s Japanophiles. More specifically, we need to attract new members and more event business. I also believe we need to help our professional communicators find more work by telling editors worldwide that FCCJ members are the experts when it comes to covering Japan.

This month, we take the first of many steps to improve our external communications.

Until now, No. 1 has been poorly displayed on our website. To see text and graphics laid out as in the magazine, readers have had to download an unwieldy PDF file. Otherwise they have seen only plain text.

From this issue, we have a new online edition at www.fccj.or.jp. Please have a look. You will see a work in progress, but many new features are planned. For example, when No.1 receives more letters than it can print, the overflow can now run online. In the same way, when we have a surplus of compelling copy (as with our recent Murray Sayle memorial), No.1 will be able to offer “bonus” coverage online.

The first step has been to get IT/PC and Publications working together. Next, I want these two committees to work closely with PAC to ensure that every PAC event gets timely coverage on the website and that more PAC events are covered in No.1 Shimbun.

We already generate two texts for each PAC event: invitation notices and the moderator’s introduction. Many speakers are also happy to provide full electronic text of their presentations. The challenge is to develop a protocol whereby we use these feeds to generate a timely summary for upload to our website.

To make the website more dynamic, our working group is brainstorming many ideas. To harness the Club’s latent social-media power, they are examining ways to encourage members to disseminate FCCJ content. Simply put, this means asking members to pass on FCCJ news to anyone and everyone via email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

Going one step further, we could even “crowd source” the collective wisdom of our members – who are, collectively, the most astute readers of Japan’s news. As they read the news online, members could flag significant items and forward links to our website. As others review these suggestions they could rate them, thereby creating a hierarchy of significance. In this way, our site could become a powerful “lens” focusing the news.

It could be immensely valuable for our foreign correspondents to have Japanese members flag items in the vernacular media, particularly obscure items that may turn into major stories. The Library staff could perhaps translate the headlines.

These ideas are just brainstorming at this point. But I think it would be particularly valuable if we could engage the skills and enthusiasm of our retired members, whose reading of each day’s news is informed by a lifetime of experience.

Although volunteer enthusiasm can play a key role in the FCCJ’s external communications, we need professional effort and expertise to do the job properly. So I believe we need to look at reallocating staff resources to ensure the Club has effective communications capability. Whether part- or full-time, I think we need to consider having a “director of communications.”

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

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November, 2010

TO THOSE MEMBERS WHO SAY I PAINT TOO DARK A picture of FCCJ finances: true, we are not bankrupt – yet. My point is that for more than 15 years we have been on a path that leads there.

Our misguided path is a downward spiral. It starts each time we hire a new general manager, who is tasked with making operations more systematic and accountable, training staff, instituting merit-based promotion, and so on. Time and again we fail to get results, and the GM's tenure ends in recriminations. And then we do the same thing all over again.

We need top-flight managerial expertise – but it is increasingly evident that we cannot get that just by hiring a new GM.

That's why we formed an improvement panel, co-chaired by Ed Merner and Mary Corbett. The panel has been focusing on the Club's food and beverage operations, because that's where we lose money – ¥100 million or more so far this fiscal year. We can cover this with member dues, but not sustainably. It drains the reserves we need for refurbishing Club premises and to cover long-term obligations such as staff retirement allowances.

Nor is it necessary for F&B to lose money. Many days we have a full house for lunch and dinner. However, we have been paying ¥3 million a month for temporary haizen staff to a supplier we've used for 25 years. Starting Nov. 1, the Club no longer uses haizen, because with flexible scheduling our own staff can do the work for much less.

I can understand why some members are disturbed to hear that the possibility of outsourcing is on our agenda. But it's an avenue we must explore and consider very carefully before making any decisions. The specific outsourcing option we are considering at this point would see the Club sign a contract with an outside company to manage our F&B operations while continuing to employ our current staff. Our employees' dedication and hard work are, I should point out, one of the Club's great strengths.

The improvement panel is in contact with many specialist contractors, including Osaka-based M&M Service. On Nov. 1, M&M dispatched two senior managers to the Club. They will work on the premises full-time for three months, and we will pay each of them a nominal ¥250,000 a month. The M&M managers will take an in-depth look at our F&B operations, and report their findings to the Club's acting general manager every two weeks.

After three months, M&M will decide if it wants to make a proposal regarding management of our F&B operations – which we are under no obligation to accept. Any proposal would be put before a general membership meeting.

Because the M&M managers are working closely with our employees, members of the Board (including me) and representatives of Club management recently held a town hall meeting with the F&B staff. We explained why we've decided to have M&M inspect our F&B operations. Our employees realize their work would be less frustrating if operations were better run.

One thing is sure at this point. To have two F&B management experts spend three months going through our operations with a fine-tooth comb and reporting what they see week-by-week is good value for a total outlay of ¥1.5 million. Let's see what they say… then decide.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

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Dear Members:

As part of the Club's efforts to reduce costs, the Club premises will close at 11:45pm every night and reopen at 7:00am -- beginning on Monday, November 1.

The operating hours of the Main Bar and other facilities of the Club will not change, however members are asked to leave the premises at 11:30pm, prior to staff locking and leaving the facilities at 11:45pm.

Members who wish to use the 19F library between 11:45pm and 7:00am may continue to do so. However, a registered pass-card will be necessary. This pass-card system will prevent members from being locked out of the library by mistake. When leaving the library between 11:45pm and 7:00am, you will need to turn off the lights and ensure the door to the hallway is closed and locked.

Pass-cards (500 yen) are available from Oct. 27 in the 19F office during office hours. Certain other smart-cards and mobile phones (FeliCa, Mifare, Osaifu-Keitai) may also be registered.

Please note that access to the library during these hours will be only from the 19F hall entrance. Access to the 20F will not be available. Entrance to the 19F will be via the B1 entrance to the building (JR Yurakucho station-side). Members are asked to sign-in at the B1 Building Security office. With no staff on duty, the present security camera system has been upgraded and Building Security will include the library in their patrol of the building.

Because this is such short notice, please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this matter or express your opinion. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and greatly appreciate your cooperation.

Sincerely,
Georges Baumgartner,
FCCJ President

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October, 2010

FROM THE COVER THROUGH THE INSIDE OF THIS edition you will find an extensive celebration of the life and craft of Murray Sayle, who died on Sept. 19. Alas, there is not enough space in our magazine to adequately cover the long career of this larger-than-life character whose presence defined our Club for so many years. Adieu, Murray! This feature would have been so much better if you were here to write it.

When I first began reporting from Tokyo in 1982, the FCCJ's position was vastly different from today. Japan was a looming economic superpower and editors worldwide were hungry for reports of its seemingly unstoppable progress and explanations of its success.

At the same time, Japanese audiences had little awareness of what we wrote. Sometimes a diplomat in a distant capital would clip and translate a story and fax an outraged report to Tokyo. Or translated items might appear in the Japanese editions of American news magazines.

Today, sadly, Japan is a sideshow for the global media, notable mainly as China's neighbor. But thanks to the Internet, observant bloggers and increasing facility in foreign languages, Japanese audiences are now much more aware of what we write.

In this altered environment, our Professional Activities Committee podium must be seen in a completely new light. It retains an important role as a "soapbox" from which Japanese politicians and business leaders can address the outer world. But, increasingly, the latent power of our podium lies in its visibility to the domestic audience.

In a land where public discourse is still largely dictated by kisha clubs and the ideological filter of major media outlets, the FCCJ represents a uniquely independent perspective. Through our choice of speakers we have the ability to give voice to those who might otherwise be ignored.

In this way, the FCCJ has an opportunity to play an important role in Japanese civil society and democracy. But we have yet to fulfill our potential.

Although important to the domestic discourse, PAC events featuring interests ignored by domestic media are often of no interest to our overseas editors. So while these may provide useful background for foreign correspondents, speakers are often disappointed to find their efforts generate little or no coverage. As we work to bring more events of global relevance to the Club, I believe we must also seek ways to amplify our domestic events.

Today's Internet tools offer us the ability to deliver the full narrative of our FCCJ programs to a nationwide audience, unfiltered by the domestic media. In the same way, we can provide the Japanese audience with direct access to what our members tell the world about Japan in media outlets around the world. If we succeed at doing this, we will build the stature of our Club in Japan and around the world.

This is why I have asked the committees in charge of FCCJ's media – our website, our magazine and the walls of our Club – to identify new ways to deliver our message to external audiences. Leading this effort are Martin Koelling, our 1st VP in charge of House & Property; Martyn Williams, chair of Information Technology; and John Harris, chair of Publications.

They tell me they are examining many possibilities, including: live video streaming and online text summaries of PAC events; use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media; better online display of an externally focused No. 1 Shimbun; and more.

As president, I am impatient. I want to move quickly to implement these ideas and I intend to keep up the pressure to achieve results.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

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September, 2010

NOBODY IMAGINED THAT JAPAN AIRLINES COULD go bankrupt. As a long-established brand and national symbol, its failure was unthinkable. This mindset permitted JAL stakeholders to remain complacent and defer the tough decisions needed to restore the company’s fiscal health.

In the end, perhaps they were partly right: deus ex machina, the government stepped in to bail out the ailing airline.

Although no such angel waits in the wings to bail out the FCCJ, after 65 years it is as difficult to imagine Tokyo without our beloved Club as Japan sans JAL.

It is time to start imagining that dreadful scenario.

We must imagine this now precisely because it is not yet inevitable. If we face up to acute structural problems immediately and act decisively to remedy them, we still have the means to cure ourselves.

Our core mission is to support a financially stressed and rapidly shrinking global industry that now sees Japan as a sideshow. Our aging membership is shrinking, in both absolute numbers and in its capacity to buy and consume alcohol. With Tokyo's population of foreign journalists and other expats shrinking, too, core membership becomes harder to replace. Our efforts to recruit younger members and women have been inadequate so far.

As the situation has worsened, our governance has been mired in toxic politics and micro-mismanagement. Our professional management has been in turmoil for so long that our business now runs largely on autopilot.

It is a credit to our long-suffering staff that they have managed to keep the Club running under difficult circumstances.

The bottom-line reality is that, with revenues declining, our costs remain too high and too fixed. As a result, last fiscal year the FCCJ lost on average nearly ¥2 million each month.

As treasurer for five years (2000-05), I came to know the FCCJ books intimately. So in collaboration with our current very capable treasurer, Jonathan Soble, we have closely reviewed our finances over the summer.

The majority of losses come from our food and beverage (F&B) operations, which member dues have subsidized for too long.

Before you begin to panic, based on the assumption that we intend to fire your favorite waiter or radically raise prices, stop!

With minimal sacrifice by members and staff, it should be possible to bring F&B back into the black by, eliminating waste of resources and increasing revenues.

For example, labor resources can be allocated more efficiently.

There are four basic categories of employees in our F&B: career staff, contract employees, part-timers and haizen (temporary staff supplied by an agency).

For 25 years, the FCCJ has relied on the same agency to supply temporary workers when we need extra help for banquets or large PAC luncheons. We currently pay this agency an average of ¥3 million per month – a number that approximates our F&B losses. If our permanent staff can work with us to minimize this cost, obviously less sacrifice will be required elsewhere.

It would take more space than I have here to explain all the measures required, but the example above is a good one. To find other good ideas that can minimize pain for members and staff alike, we have formed an Improvement Committee, headed by Ed Merner and Mary Corbett.

It is our fiduciary duty to identify and assess all possible measures to ensure the Club’s sustainability. But make no mistake, the solutions we will favor are those that put the lightest burden on the FCCJ’s core stakeholders: our members and – not far behind, the people who have devoted their working lives to the FCCJ.

We must of course treat all employees fairly. But I'm sure all members would agree that we have a special obligation to those who have been with us for many years. It is a bond of several hundred personal relationships that, in many cases, go back decades.

I hope and believe that this sense of obligation is mutual, and that our career employees will work with us to find effective solutions that benefit our common interest: the long-term survival of the Club.

There is also a contribution every member can make. Keep your eye out for opportunities to bring banquets and meetings to the Club, and to recruit new members. Bring potential recruits to the club for a meal, a PAC event… or a bottle of wine from the top end of our wine list.

Ultimately, the most pleasant solution to our F&B woes would be for members to eat more, and order more and better (i.e., higher-margin) drinks. So, if you feel like having a martini, please have three. It's your patriotic duty to the Club.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

********************

August, 2010

FELLOW FCCJ MEMBERS,

Your new Board has been busy forming committees to tackle a wide range of key issues. Opposite you will find a list of our new committee chairs. Please give these volunteers your support and contact me or the relevant chairs if you would like to volunteer.

Next month I want to tell you more about our new vision for No. 1 Shimbun and plans for a comprehensive FCCJ communications strategy. But first let me dispense with a needless distraction.

The July issue of this magazine included a letter from Anthony Rowley, an unsuccessful candidate in the recent FCCJ election, complaining that his demand for a recount of the ballots “was flatly rejected, with no reason being given.”

In fact, Rowley and his cohort gave no plausible reason to back their demand for a recount.

In any democratic election where candidates win by only a few votes, it is natural to demand a recount. But in our recent election, many of the successful candidates won by margins of two or three to one.

With such margins, it is hard to imagine a scenario whereby the intention of voters was misinterpreted. So this demand for a recount can only be interpreted as an allegation of wholesale electoral fraud on the part of those counting the ballots.

Five people participated in counting the ballots. The Election Committee included three respected Regular members: Tsukasa Furukawa, Catherine Makino and Henry Scott Stokes. Two staff members also participated: Wayne Hunter and Hitoshi Kubo.

Rowley’s demand for a recount amounts to a gross slander of these people; one for which he should apologize.

There was nothing out of the ordinary in the results. In June 2010, 224 out of 318 eligible voters cast ballots. In 2009, 211 of 346 voted. In 2008, 195 of 361 voted. So there can be no suggestion that ballot boxes were “stuffed.”

What was cited as suspicious was that many successful candidates received a similar number of votes – between 150 and 160 each. Behind this Rowley sees a sinister “voting machine.” This is utterly risible.

Two distinct tendencies contended in the recent election, with people working together on both sides. The group around my opponent for president was no less coordinated than those who supported me.

There was nothing sinister in this and no apologies need be made. For those of us who were elected, the greatest fear was that we would have to endure a year of animosity and wasted time serving on the kind of contentious Board this Club has had too often in recent years. We wanted to serve on a team that could work together.

So, yes, several of us worked together, each canvassing 30 or so voters. It would have been impossible for each of us to contact all 318 electors – and annoying to those receiving calls. All we did was to state our case; each voter was free to make up his or her own mind.

With bizarrely contorted logic, however, Rowley contends that the “best interests of democracy” have not been served.

To that, all I can say is that Mr. Rowley’s own words confirm the wisdom of the FCCJ electorate.

This year we have a very capable, enthusiastic and collegial Board. We will do our best to ensure a sustainable future for our Club.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

********************

July 16, 2010

Dear Members,

With respect to the financial situation of the club and in an effort to reduce our operating costs we will shortly commence a number of changes to our F&B operation to make it more cost efficient and profitable.

The first step in this process is to reduce what is on offer across all outlets. After careful consideration, some of our poor performing items will be removed from our menus over the coming weeks.

My sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. It is the goal of this Board to successfully move the club through this difficult financial period and these changes are part of the ongoing process to streamline club operations.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

Georges Baumgartner
FCCJ President

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