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Number 1 Shimbun

Celebrating our 50th Year - Part II

No1-2018-09 06 1

“One of my fondest memories is an effort we made at reverse sexism – hoping to give male journalists an idea how it feels. Besides articles on boxer shorts and a Shinjuku host club (whose proprietor offered his services free of charge if we wanted to really do in-depth reporting), Ann Nakano and I persuaded journalist Murray Sayle to be our male nude centerfold.
Murray was a giant of a man (in more ways than one), and behind locked doors on the 19th floor, with fellow Australian Happy Mayger at the camera, and one or two inevitable props in the interest of propriety, we completed what was a tense but pretty hilarious shoot. Only to be stunned by a cry from Happy, who discovered he'd had no film in the camera: “Bloody hell!” The second shoot was far less spontaneous than the first, but still the photos attest to Murray's irrepressible sense of humor, which pervaded everything he ever undertook.”

--Roslyn Hayman (July 1982 to June 1983)



“Congratulations to the Number 1 Shimbun for surviving 50 years of abuse and criticism. Anyone attending a general meeting can understand the problems of pleasing a gathering of foreign correspondents. But we tried – I for eight years, along with co-editor Ed Neilan.

One of the strangest moments of my stint as editor was when one writer submitted a piece of fiction about riding his sperm through a lady's reproductive system. I chose to spike the story. He complained to president Steve Herman, and to his credit, Steve just said, "Pat's the editor.

The change of format from newspaper to magazine in 2004, and the introduction of compensation for the writers, seems to have helped encourage contributions and perhaps upgraded content. One hopes there will be greater effort at providing more club news for all members, regular and associate, in the future. Good luck.”

--Patrick Killen (August 1991 to June 1998)


“Roger Schreffler, then president, had to ask me three times to be editor. As a native Arabic speaker and non-native English speaker, I was hesitant, but eventually accepted. It was still in the tabloid newspaper format then, focusing on club news. I often traveled to Kawasaki (at my own expense) to do the final checks. I thought this was natural. Regular writers included the late Ed Neilan, the late Roy Garner, Caroline Parsons and Pat Killen.

We produced an April Fool’s Day issue in 2000 and made sure it was distributed to members on April 1. I wrote the lead story about Japan discovering oil deposits on Mount Fuji. An ambassador from one of the oil producing countries actually asked me for more information!

I once wrote an editorial about an encounter I had with former PM Nakasone, during which he retracted a statement that the FCCJ was a ‘dangerous place.’ Not true, he said, it was the FCCJ journalists who were ‘dangerous.’”

--Khaldon Azhari (June 1998 to June 2000)

No1-2018-09 06 2

“As chair of the publications committee, I took over a tired publication. A labor of love by a revolving cast, Number 1 Shimbun was an eight-page newsprint tabloid that often carried terrific articles. But it looked worse than my high school newspaper. Photos reproduced poorly. Typos slipped in with depressing frequency. Deadlines were fungible. I took the committee’s proposal to a general membership meeting: hire an outside company to sell the ads and design and produce it as a glossy magazine. Make it a worthy showcase of our members’ journalistic work.

Of course, the membership was divided. What change at the FCCJ has ever been approved by all? One member, looking at our mock-up, whined, “If you’re going to have a better design, is this the best you can do?” That grated: I felt the new look was 100 percent better than the old look, and he was opposed because it wasn’t 200 percent better?
Others said skip the outside company; let’s sell our own ads. But the FCCJ had been trying to do that in various ways for years, with no success. When we voted, the ayes had it. Number 1 Shimbun got a new look and format.”

--Jim Treece (Nov. 1985 to July 1986, chair 2002)


“When the Club president Myron Belkind called to offer me editor-ship of Number 1 Shimbun, I thought he was joking. Being based in Osaka, I wondered how this was going to work. My editorial philosophy, though, was that FCCJ stood for Foreign Correspondents of Japan – not just Tokyo. So, I commissioned, when I could, articles about the Japan beyond the Old Edo drawbridge. It was hard work. This was the pre-Skype era and effective communication with Tokyo- based members and staff was difficult. But it was a great opportunity to meet more members. As I'd edited a trade magazine in the early 1990s, it was also a return to magazine writing, my first love.

A couple years later, I had the honor of sharing editing duties with David McNeill and Steve McClure, superb editors both. That was a much smoother ride, although I felt slightly (just slightly) guilty because it was they, not I, who had to deal with complaints about the magazine in the Main Bar.”

--Eric Johnston (Dec. 2003 to Nov. 2004)



No1-2018-09 06 3



“Our most read (including online views) story was the report Carsten Germis, of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, did for us about the political pressure his paper had received after he wrote an article critical of Japan’s attempts at historical revision. In Number 1 Shimbun, Germis described how a Japanese diplomat actually visited his editor in Germany to complain about their Tokyo correspondent. A university professor translated the article into Japanese and it went viral, with over 150,000 views each in Japanese and English.

Another piece that got attention was Mark Schreiber’s dismemberment of a popular myth that had been reported in papers and websites all over the world. Supposedly, eyeball licking had become a “craze” among Japanese schoolkids, and it was causing eye infections to spread. Mark’s single-minded debunking of the practice in Number 1 Shimbun – tracking the story to its “source” – had Reader’s Editors on papers like The Guardian writing apologies describing how they were duped. Schreiber (and Number 1) are still noted on the respected fact-checking site,, for exposing a silly Japan story that editors wanted to believe but was totally false.”

Gregory Starr (Nov. 2012 to Aug. 2017)



Published in: September 2018

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