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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2017 (75)

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January 2017 (10)
January 2017



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January 2017

From the archives:
Trump makes a Tokyo visit

Voices of 2016
Quotes from Club speakers

2017: Something to Crow About
Correspondents' predictions for the year ahead

Profile: Abigail Leonard
In search of untold stories . . . by Tim Hornyak

A Change in the Air(waves)
New technologies and viewing habits . . . by Gavin Blair

Is the Government Blind to Japan's Impoverished?
Activists speak on the country's disadvantaged . . . by Julian Ryall

Vaccine Battle Stakes are High
A drug, news headlines and a libel lawsuit . . . by Justin McCurry

Someday Going Back Home

photographs of Syrian refugee children by Natsuki Yasuda

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

Club News

New Members/New books in the library


Nissan1 Ricoh NSK1
FCCJ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


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February 2017 (9)
February 2017



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February 2017

From the archives:
The Maestro with the Baton

Journalism Enters the Matrix
The new visual technologies . . . by Michael Penn

Difficult Conceptions
The pregnancy struggle in Japan . . . by Sonja Blaschke


Profile: Andy Sharp
Beating tight deadlines for Bloomberg  . . . by Gavin Blair

The "Kabuki" of Donald Trump and the Auto Industry
A look at the real story . . . by Roger Schreffler

Welcome to the Post-truth World
Fake news isn't the only problem . . . by Ayako Mie


Olympic Press Center Under Fire
Another 2020 mix-up . . . by Julian Ryall

Exhibition: Dojo Giga
Paintings by Bujinkan Dojo Soke, Masaaki Hatsumi

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

New Members/New books in the library


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March 2017 (8)
March 2017



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March 2017

From the archives:
Catalyst for Change
by Charles Pomeroy

Excerpts from Press Freedom in Contemporary Japan

Growing Pains: How Japan's Media Got Here and Why
by Koichi Nakano

Trials in the Shadows
by Lawrence Repeta and Yasuomi Sawa

Profile: Yoichi Yabe
A nautical photographer on his profession . . . by Tyler Rothmar

Women Power the Reconstruction of Kitakami
Some good news from Tohoku . . . by John R. Harris

Who was Kim Jong-nam?
by Justin McCurry

Exhibition: Fukushima Photographic Journey

Photographs by Bruce Osborne

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

New Members/New books in the library


Nissan1 Ricoh NSK1
FCCJ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


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May 2017 (10)
May 2017


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May 2017

Showa Memories

From the archives:
The Man with the Baton
by Charles Pomeroy

Trouble, Rubble, Toil and Bubble
The media fascination with the Showa era . . . by Mark Schreiber

What's in a Word
The meaning of sontaku . . . by Eiichiro Tokumoto


Profile: Bruce Osborn
by Abigail Leonard

The Emperor's Buon Viaggio
Traveling with the press pack . . . by Stefano Carrer

When We Targeted North Korea

The crisis in 1969 . . . by Todd Crowell

Exhibition: Made in Tokyo
Photographs by Carla Hernandez

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

Club News

New Members/New books in the library


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June 2017 (10)
June 2017



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June 2017

Water Control

From the archives:
Economic Reform Advocate
by Charles Pomeroy

Salute to the Gaijin Ghetto Rats
Memories from the old Nikkei Building residents . . . by Bradley K. Martin

Rebellion in the Valley of the Fireflies
Local protests have halted dam construction, for now . . . by Sonja Blaschke


Profile: Sarah Birke
by Julian Ryall

The Kyoto Classroom: Writers and the Kansai Aesthetic
A different perspective . . . by Eric Johnston

The New Japan Times

Reborn at 120 . . . by Gavin Blair

Exhibition: Being There
Photographs by Michael E.J. Stanley

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

Club News

New Members/New books in the library


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FCCJ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


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July 2017 (9)
July 2017



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July 2017

From the archives:
Japan's Favorite Optimist
by Charles Pomeroy

Best Frenemies: Japan vs the UN
Government spokesmen challenge UN statements
. . . by David McNeill

"I Love Linda"
A post-war TV star was discovered at the Club tables . . . by Eiichiro Tokumoto


Profile: Kazunori Takada
Bloomberg's Tokyo bureau chief . . . by Justin McCurry

Scoop! Team Work
An Australian correspondent's China gambit . . . by Gregory Clark

A New Owner for the Japan Times
 by Tim Hornyak

Exhibition: Agion Oros Athos
Photographs by Hirohito Nakanishi

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

Club News

New Members/New books in the library


  Ricoh NSK1
FCCJ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


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August 2017 (9)
August 2017



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August 2017

From the archives:
The enduring politician and ambassador
by Charles Pomeroy

If . . .
Could the Vatican have helped stop Hiroshima
. . . by Eiichiro Tokumoto

When the journalist becomes the story
Some South Korean reporters had a tough decision . . . by Asger Rojle Christensen


Profile: Johann Fleuri
  . . . by Justin McCurry

The state of the fourth estate
A panel of journalists speak of the future . . . by Julian Ryall

Meet Watson, your non-human resources manager
 by Tim Hornyak

Exhibition: Temptation to express the sensation of riding waves
Photographs by NAKI

From the President    Khaldon Azhari

Club News

New Members/New books in the library


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New Members and New Books in the Library

Status Change (From Professional/Journalist Associate to Regular)

PETER O’CONNOR, of Musashino University, first came to Japan in 1976, when he wrote advertising copy for Dentsu. He first visited the FCCJ in 1977 when he was introduced to Murray Sayle. Peter is back at the Club as an historian of the transnational media of East Asia. His most recent book was (in Irish Gaelic) An tÉirí Amach sa Domhan Thoir: Mar a chonaic an tSeapáin, an tSín agus an Chóiré éirí amach na Cásca is a thionchar (Dublin, Coiscéim: 2016), on the influence of Dublin’s 1916 Easter Rising on independence movements in East Asia. Peter has been setting up databases of historical East Asian newspapers with Brill Publishers, of Leiden, The Netherlands.


KATHRYN WORTLEY is a Japan correspondent for Canada- and UK-based business news agency International News Services. She also writes freelance for Asia-Pacific travel publication TTG Asia, the Asia Times, the Japan Times and Japan Today. After writing for Scottish outdoor magazine Walkwise and Glasgow’s Evening Times, Kathryn moved to Japan in 2008 to pursue her love of the Japanese language. She worked on video media in Kagoshima before relocating to Tokyo for a project at the British Embassy. She is a former editor of BCCJ Acumen, the magazine of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.


Rosa Argyropoulos,
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Takako Ikegai, no affiliation
Takashi Matsumura, GENEQ Corporation
Shinnosuke Miyazaki, Arts And
Crafts Company
Hideo Nakazawa, Hitachi, Ltd.
Yozo Omori, Streetmedia, Inc.
Ko Takemoto, no affiliation
Kimitaka Usami, K-Square Inc.
Gen Matsuda, AsZ Holdings, Inc.

Akira Oka, Direct Marketing Japan, Inc.




New in the library


Nihon chusu no kyobo

Shigeaki Koga


Gift from Shigeaki Koga


Chosen suru sekai no tsushinsha: media shinjidai ni

Sekai no tsushinsha kenkyukai (ed.)

Shinbun Tsushin Chosakai

Gift from Kazuo Abiko


Of Fortunes and War: Clare Hollingworth, First of the Female War Correspondents

Patrick Garrett

Two Roads


The Ryukyu Kingdom: Cornerstone of East Asia

Mamoru Akamine; Lina Terrell (trans.); Robert Huey (ed.)

University of Hawaii Press


Japan Company Handbook (Summer 2017)

Toyo Keizai Inc.

Club News




JUST IN TIME TO welcome back members who have been fortunate enough to escape the hottest days of Tokyo, the FCCJ Food and Beverage team is putting the finishing touches on a menu revamp which will give everyone much reason to celebrate the arrival of autumn with exceptional grub and wines.

Adding spice and color to our beloved classic dishes will be a delectable new minestrone, along with expanded salad choices you can enjoy with a new selection of choice breads. Scrumptious seasonal specials will vie for new patronage with equally delicious low-fat selections – something that has long been requested by members. And the Correspondents’ Lunches will now come with a delicious selection of desserts for just ¥300 extra.

Come September, lunch-time fare will be available daily until three o’clock, after which our guests can enjoy an extensive à la carte and set-course menu until the last order in the evening. The chefs will soon announce an enticing new selection.

Although the autumn menu is already near completion, management is eager to continue serving fine foods which reflect the eclectic and valued tastes of our members. Please drop your comments into the Suggestions Box at the FCCJ Front Desk or write us. We look forward to seeing you often in the Club Main Bar and Dining Room.

      The F&B Committee




LONG-TIME JAPAN RESIDENT, FCCJ member, author and journalist Jean Pearce passed away in June in Washington D.C. at the age of 96. Jean’s long-running column in the Japan Times and books were the sources of insight for both new and old Japan residents, and she continued to write for the JT until the year 2000. Jean was a member of the FCCJ from 1963 and served on numerous committees and Boards of Directors in her 37-year membership.

      Dan Sloan




Exhibition: Temptation to express the sensation of riding waves



Photographs by NAKI

THE IMPRESSION FORMED WHEN riding waves can be sublime – and the essence of living. I started creating my artwork with the aim of capturing these feelings. I hope you enjoy my work, produced from various media, including surfboard resin and the accessories I wore. My intention is to show both my affinity with surfing and my consciousness about recycling.

NAKI is a professional Japanese surfer who was the 1989 grand champion of the NSA all-Japan surfing tournament. He moved California in 1994, where, during his daily encounters with the ocean, he pursued photography to depict his fascination with the waves. He has been house photographer for both Surfing and Surfer magazines, and was the first Japanese photographer to shoot the cover story of the Surfer’s Journal. His publications include North Hawaii and exhibitions include shows for Diesel and Beams.




Meet Watson, Your Non-human Resources Manager


by Tim Hornyak


OU’RE ALMOST OUT OF college and it’s time to apply for a job. Hoping to score a full-time position, you decide to try your luck with one of Japan’s most innovative companies. You’re competing against thousands of others, yet you trust in your winning personality. There’s just one thing: you’ll have to charm an artificial intelligence to land the job.

SoftBank has deployed IBM’s Watson AI platform to screen university applicants aiming to join the company in April 2018. As the first company in Japan to make such an announcement, the telecom giant was quick to say the system will reduce time that staff spend on the process by 75 percent.

This year, Watson is vetting 400 applications, which consist of typewritten answers to questionnaires. The platform is screening responses to one question, namely: “What are your strong points that match with SoftBank Values (No. 1, Speed, Challenge, Reverse Planning, Tenacity)? Please tell us about an episode that demonstrates your strong points.”

“First, we’re using Watson to evaluate job application forms more fairly by removing subjectivity,” says SoftBank spokesperson Rika Takahashi. “Second, to spend more time on communication with applicants.”

IBM CREATED WATSON (NAMED after its founder Thomas J. Watson) in an attempt to get computers to interact with humans in a natural way. Its ability to process natural language and draw upon encyclopedic knowledge earned it worldwide fame when it defeated human champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings on the U.S. quiz show Jeopardy! in 2011, winning a $1 million grand prize. Since then, the machine has shrunk from the size of a room to about three stacked pizza boxes, and it’s now accessible anywhere via the cloud. For SoftBank’s recruiting, Watson has been “trained” to discriminate between good and bad answers by analyzing 1,500 questionnaires pre-graded by HR staff.

Watson is also one of the most persuasive examples of how what Big Blue calls “cognitive computing” is changing business. It has been deployed, with varying degrees of success, in everything from lung cancer screening to military procurement and even self-driving buses. Japan’s Dai-ichi Life Insurance and Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance even introduced Watson-based AI systems to sift and analyze documents related to payment assessments.

“‘Cognitive’ to IBM is really a new partnership between man and machine,” Jay Bellissimo, general manager of the Watson & Cloud Platform at IBM, told the New Economy Summit, an innovation conference held in Tokyo in April. “It’s really focused on accelerating, enhancing and scaling human expertise.”


“The real power is in the learning.

Watson never forgets.”


Able to read 800 million pages in one second, Watson can understand natural speech or text, assign contextual relationships to information and form hypotheses based on probability scores and algorithms focused on deep learning, a field of AI. As it ingests massive amounts of data, it can detect relevant patterns and assign them rankings according to their likelihood of fulfilling certain goals.

“If it gets something wrong, it will re-weigh – and the algorithms will do it again until it gets smarter and smarter and gets the right answer,” said Bellissimo. “The real power is in the learning. Watson never forgets.”

In one example cited by Bellissimo, Watson helped Australian oil and gas firm Woodside by providing instant recommendations about oil rig design after going through 200 million bits of information based on 30 years of engineering experience built up at the company.

BUT AS AI APPLICATIONS proliferate, so do concerns that workers and their jobs will be squeezed out. Such prominent scientists and entrepreneurs as physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have expressed fears that uncontrolled AI could pose a threat to humanity. On a more pedestrian level, Watson has struggled to live up to the massive hype surrounding it: After forming a partnership with IBM Watson in 2013 to battle cancer, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center put the project on hold late last year, its goals unmet despite an expenditure of over $62 million.

Despite a scathing recent report by Jefferies analyst James Kisner, who criticized Watson as too costly to develop compared to its earnings, the company has pushed on with the program as a core unit while it struggles to transition from traditional businesses such as servers and mainframes to cloud technology and cybersecurity.

For its part, SoftBank is happy to experiment with Watson – and it has no doubts that AI is the future. The employee vetting platform is one of its latest AI projects following the launch of humanoid robot Pepper in 2015 and the acquisition of high-profile robotics companies Boston Dynamics and Schaft earlier this year.

“Some say SoftBank is a mobile phone company, but that’s wrong,” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told a shareholders’ meeting in June. “We are an information revolution company. A cellphone is just a device. From now on, we will be in an age where all infrastructure will be connected by information networks.”

Tim Hornyak is a freelance writer who has worked for IDG News, CNET News, Lonely Planet and other media. He is the author of Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots.


The State of the Fourth Estate

    A panel of veteran foreign correspondents looks at the results of upheavals in the media world, and makes some observations about the days ahead.

by Julian Ryall


hese are, without a doubt, testing times for the profession of journalism.

There is the seemingly inexorable rise of social media compounded by a large part of the general public afflicted by a shrinking attention span. Traditional media outlets are seeing falling advertising leading to falling revenues causing falling investment in journalists and, inevitably, falling standards. Too often the media seems to succumb to the easy allure of click-bait over quality reporting.

And if those worries were not enough to keep a hack awake at night, the world has a U.S. president who labels anything that does not reflect his own world view as “fake news,” damaging and degrading the perception of what even the most reputable of media outlets produces.

That accusation of “fake news” is, in turn, increasingly being bandied about by those on the receiving end of unflattering coverage to tarnish anyone or anything that questions their motives. We saw it in the recent British general election, and in Japan, when the Liberal Democratic Party attempted to get their licks in even before the July 2 vote for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, perhaps sensing that they were about to suffer a drubbing. “It has become difficult for us to convey our policies [to the public] because of media reports,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a campaign speech in western Tokyo on June 30, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Abe was referring to media coverage of his own trials and tribulations over suggestions that he intervened to influence ministry-level decisions on two educational establishments, and that his defense minister, Tomomi Inada, had called on members of the Self-Defense Forces to vote for the LDP in the election.

“If we slip up when speaking, the media immediately jump all over us,” claimed an apparently offended Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the LDP. “If you think you can make our candidates unsuccessful, just do it. If the media think that they are the only entities that can influence the election outcome, then they are completely wrong.”


Philip Bowring
“There has been a move towards an oligopoly of the old media.”

YET TESTING TIMES ARE precisely when quality journalism should come to the fore and fulfill its remit of informing and enlightening readers, listeners or viewers, said Bill Emmott, editor-in-chief of the Economist for 13 years from 1993, a columnist for publications that include La Stampa, Nikkei Business and the Financial Times as well as being the author of 13 books.

“For journalists and journalism, this is a difficult but also a very good period for us,” he told the Freedom of the Press Dinner at the FCCJ on July 5. “We have to fight to make sure that our voices are heard because they are voices of credibility and authority and we have value as analysts. But we also need to raise our collective game because – while information is abundant – the understanding of that information is far more scarce,” he said.

Emmott was part of a three-member panel of speakers invited to the Club to discuss the future of journalism. Also at the top table was Philip Bowring, a writer for the Far Eastern Economic Review for the majority of the two decades between 1972 and 1992, only interrupted by a spell at the Financial Times. He subsequently spent 19 years as a columnist for the International Herald Tribune. With other expatriate journalists, Bowring founded the Hong Kong-based Asia Sentinel in 2006 as a digital heir to the now-defunct FEER and Asiaweek, while he also contributes to a number of publications as a freelance columnist and works as an author and consultant.

The third member of the panel was Urban Lehner, who spent 33 years at the Wall Street Journal as a reporter, editor and executive, with two spells as a correspondent in Tokyo over a total of eight years. He subsequently spent nine years as editor-in-chief and vice president of DTN/The Progressive Farmer, based in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the author of a number of books, including The Asia Factor in U.S.-Japan Relations.

While these three stalwarts of the media industry – with well over a century of experience in newsrooms or other media workplaces between them – enjoyed some of the “golden years” of journalism, just how bleak is the outlook for the business now?


Urban Lehner
“The future of journalism is anything but certain.”


THE CHALLENGES, THEY AGREED, are abundant. At a fundamental level, the number of print titles of years gone by has shrunk, said Bowring, pointing out that one of the three largest publications that he wrote for has not survived. (The Far Eastern Economic Review ceased publication in December, 2009.) “Because of the economic constraints on these publications, primarily caused by declining advertising revenues or readership, there has been a move towards an oligopoly of the old media, but we are also seeing that in the new media,” he said.

It is a similar story in the book publishing world, he pointed out, where the 30-something major English-language publishers may still exist in name, but are now mostly owned by three or four large groups. Consequently, he said, there is less diversity in the types of books that are being published; a similar consolidation has taken place in the media world and, in precisely the same way, diversity has been sacrificed.

The dawning of the digital era initially promised to deliver greater diversity and, initially, maybe it did because countless small, net-based publications cropped up to cater to every niche interest. It quickly became apparent, however, that revenue was the problem. “Old media” lost revenue as its traditional advertisers and readers fragmented to alternative outlets, but “new media” were not able to earn vast sums because of the online business model and have not – and still have not – come up with a viable method of taking cash from an online reader base.

The outcome is that old media has less revenue and hence less to spend on traditional in-depth investigative stories, extensive background research and even newsroom headcount. Perhaps most worryingly for foreign correspondents, there is also less cash available for permanent overseas postings, as titles rely on stringers, casuals, wire services and even, among the more unscrupulous, simply lifting other publications’ work.

“We have seen the diminishment of professional news services in terms of numbers, but have we seen a compensation through improved quality?” Bowring asked. “It would be hard to say that the quality of the surviving mainstream media has increased. There is, instead, an increased reliance on cut-and-paste journalism, which has been exacerbated by the likes of Yahoo and Google.” Such news aggregator sites are “effectively stealing copy,” Bowring added, meaning that revenue is going to the intermediary companies rather than the original producers of the news.


Bill Emmott
“Information is abundant, the understanding of that information is far more scarce.”

LEHNER WAS FACED WITH a direct choice between the new and the old when he retired from the Wall Street Journal 14 years ago, he admitted. The choice was between the editorship of a city newspaper in Ohio and a data and technology company in Nebraska. The decision was made, he said, after he visited both companies and had a chance to speak to some of the employees.

At the Ohio newspaper, writers used the opportunity to justify why he should not cut their beats if he took over. It was not, he said, a happy place. The other company, which provided data on commodity prices and weather to farmers, wanted Lehner to oversee its transition from a technology company to a media company delivering information that was not being suddenly provided for free on the Internet.

And while the decision was not easy – “one consideration was that if I became the editor of a print publication, my friends would ‘understand’,” he said – he went to the data firm and built an award-winning team of news writers and analysts. “I believe providing that sort of business-to-business information is one of the futures of journalism,” he said.

Emmott linked the problems in the journalism world to broader problems of democracy and the role of the media in modern-day democracy. “If we look at the history of journalism and the media, it is clear that it goes through ups and downs,” he said. “This is one of the oldest professions and a time when papers were pristinely ethical cannot be identified, so the media has always grappled with issues such as advertorials, sponsored sections and so on.

“But I believe the real problem we face in journalism today is getting noticed and being believed,” he said. “Journalists have lost the strong position they once held as providers and channels of information. Information is now abundant, communicating information is abundant, so journalists no longer have the dominant position.

EMMOTT SAID THAT A worrying paradox is that while information is abundant and freely available, fewer people now worry about the freedom of speech. He pointed to the pressure being exerted on the government of Qatar over Al Jazeera – “one of the bright lights of the last decade and one that has led to a much more liberated media in the Arab world” – while U.S. President Donald Trump has apparently reveled in a video clip purporting to show him wrestling CNN to the ground.

For Lehner, the question of the future of journalism is closely linked to how information will be delivered 20 years or more from now. While the majority of the millennial generation access their daily dose of news via their mobile phones at present, that will surely change in the future.

But with falling earnings for the media and suggestions from some quarters that governments should directly fund the media (“a terrible idea and a slippery slope to censorship”), Lehner concluded that “the future of journalism is anything but certain or stable.”

Bowring, however, remained more optimistic and suggested that the antics of Trump may even have helped the print sector. “People are becoming more choosy again,” he said. “We are seeing a revival of print in the book trade and we see the survival of print publications long after people thought they would be dead.”

That is borne out by recent figures that show the New York Times – which Trump has derided as “failing” – recorded a net jump of 300,000 digital news subscriptions in the January-to-March quarter alone, a record-high growth. Equally, revenue from digital subscriptions is up 40 percent on the same period last year.

The industry can only hope that the reading public continues to choose quality over quantity and informed sources over rumors.

Julian Ryall is Japan correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.





Profile: Johann Fleuri


This French journalist for Ouest France and other publications believes her foreseeable future will be in Japan

by Gavin Blair


t happened early, when I was about 16 or 17 – the age that you start thinking about what you want to do with your life,” says Johann Fleuri, of first catching the journalism bug. “I like writing, but it was meeting people, talking with people and hearing their stories that was the fascinating thing for me.”

During the final two years of a course in modern literature and journalism at university in Brittany in her native France, she began working for Ouest-France newspaper and two magazines. “I was working while studying, but mostly working. I kept going to school a little, but not so much,” says Fleuri, who after graduation was asked to join the launch of a new magazine in Normandy, owned by Ouest France’s parent company.

Working in a small team building a magazine from scratch and getting feedback on test editions was a valuable experience in always keeping the reader in mind, explains Fleuri. “Writers have to think about the reader, but also have to focus on the people that we are talking to and the way we want to write the piece: it’s easy to forget that someone is reading it – but that’s the goal, right? It helped me to learn that,” she says.


"I had a list of countries I wanted to travel to and Japan was first.”


After a tough period of writing professionally while studying, followed by two years of working “every day until late with no holidays,” she says she needed a rest. “I decided to travel and maybe write a piece or two, but basically take a break. I had a list of countries I wanted to travel to and Japan was first,” says Fleuri.

She visited Japan in 2009, determined to see the country beyond the big cities, discover the culture and learn the language. “I felt really comfortable here. I had an image about Japan, but it was like nothing I knew or had read about. I had traveled before, but no other country gave me the feeling that I really knew nothing about it,” she recalls.

RETURNING TO JAPAN REGULARLY to write for a variety of publications, including Ouest-France, she won the Robert Guillain prize in 2013 from the Japanese embassy in France for her work on Tohoku. The award included funding to return to Japan, and she spent five weeks in Ishinomaki in 2013 covering the reconstruction process from the locals’ point of view. “I really felt I wanted to settle here after that,” says Fleuri. She moved to Japan in 2015.

As well as writing straight news as correspondent for Ouest-France, Flueri is also able to pursue her real passion: in-depth stories digging deep into Japanese society and culture. “Those are the kind of subjects that makes Japan so interesting. Your first impression is always wrong; if you don’t dig and dig and dig and try to understand, you don’t get the truth. I like that,” she says.

Covering women’s issues for La Gazette des femmes, she has written about gender inequality in the workplace, including jobs that females are excluded from, such as sushi chefs and saké brewers. “I also wrote about sexuality, discussing it with many women over a few months,” she explains. “It’s not an easy subject to get people to talk about, especially to a stranger, but it was very funny and I had very unexpected answers. Fleuri believes that being able to communicate directly in Japanese without a translator was crucial in connecting with the women.


She has written about gender inequality in the workplace, including jobs that females are excluded from, such as sushi chefs and saké brewers.


The freedom that some of the publications give her to spend months on a single story allows her to get under the surface of issues. “I wrote about whaling, and traveled around talking to people for about six months. The reaction was quite negative at first because they thought I was just another foreigner writing about whaling,” says Fleuri. “But I found it fascinating because the answers were nothing like I expected. Most people I met were in favor of whaling even though they don’t eat whale meat.”

THE KEEN INTEREST MANY French readers have in Japan and its culture allows Fleuri to get off the beaten track both thematically and geographically. “I’m very interested in the regions of Japan that are mostly forgotten,” she says. “Places where the population is aging and the young are moving away. There is no university in Shimane, for example, even though it's a large prefecture. So how can they expect the young people to stay?”

Her first book, Portraits de Tokyo, is being published in August and consists of 20,000-word profiles of a variety of people, most of whom she previously interviewed. “Their lives and points of view are very different,” Fleuri says. “The only common point was that they live in Tokyo. One woman was an ‘office lady,’ another was a guy who organizes funerals. There is also a Canadian rakugo performer and a woman fighting against mata-hara or ‘maternity harassment.’”


Fleuri thinks her foreseeable future will be in Japan. “There are so many problems for women in the workplace, and it is so strange that nothing changes even though the problems are so clear,” she says. “I can see myself being here for a long time. It was a long process getting here, but now that I’m here, I want to stay.”

Gavin Blair covers Japanese business, society and culture for publications in the U.S., Asia and Europe.



When the Journalist Becomes the Story

Lee Ga-hyuk reporting in Denmark (Private photo).

A young South Korean reporter faced a tough situation and made a choice. Was it the right one? You make the call.

by Asger Rojle Christensen


t was four o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve in the tiny Danish village of Gug, on the outskirts of Aalborg. It was dark enough for the Danes to have begun the traditional New Year’s fireworks, which would go on all night.

Lee Ga-hyuk, a young reporter for the South Korean cable television company JTBC, and his cameraman, pulled up outside a villa where they suspected that Chung Yoo-ra, a 21-year-old woman who was one of the main characters in the worst political corruption scandal in Lee’s homeland in decades, was holed up. “We were very tired and a little scared,” Lee says.

At the end of December, Lee and teams of reporters from at least six major Korean media outlets had flown to Frankfurt, where the young woman was thought to be staying. They had been in Germany for a week, and were about to follow a tip from one of their sources and head for Austria, when they received a phone call from Korea suggesting they go to Aalborg instead. It was likely, this source said, that Chung was staying close to a local horse training farm in the area, where several of her own horses were located.


Chung had fled from South Korea before authorities could ask about her own involvement, and Interpol had been asked by Seoul for help in tracking her down.


Chung was a successful equestrian who had won a team gold medal for South Korea at the 2014 Asian Games. She was also the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, a confidant of then-President Park Geun-hye, who allegedly conspired with Park to strong-arm donations from major corporations. Choi had been arrested in November, and was being called the “Rasputin” of the scandal. Chung, her daughter, had fled from South Korea before authorities could ask about her own involvement, and Interpol had been asked by Seoul for help in tracking her down.

In Frankfurt, Lee’s team made a quick decision and headed north rather than south. For security reasons, they left their interpreter and driver in Germany, so Lee and his cameraman took turns at the wheel, fueling themselves on a diet of bananas over the 941-km, non-stop trip.

OUTSIDE THE VILLA IN Gug, the JTBC team considered their options. They could see a luxury minivan with German license plates parked outside, one that Chung and her companions were known to have used. Through the window, they could see an Asian rice cooker. They knocked on the door and called out in Korean, but there was no response. The door was locked and the shutters were pulled.

When they showed photographs of the wanted woman, neighbors confirmed that they had seen her taking walks in the area with her small child. Lee and his colleague, now convinced they were on the scent, staked out the villa over the next 24 hours. There was no movement. Nothing happened. No one came or went.

Lee talks to the arrested Chung Yoo-ra on camera (JTBC).

Lee’s next act was to spark a storm of controversy and second-guessing: he dialed “114,” the emergency number of the Danish police. He spoke to a Danish police officer who, naturally, had never heard of Chung Yoo-ra or the scandal she was embroiled in. He and his colleagues ended up having to check Interpol records of wanted people on their computers; but four hours later they appeared at the villa, where they took Chung, her young son and several others into custody.

A Danish policeman took the time to show Lee’s team Chung’s passport, and their film of that moment has been shown countless times on South Korean television.

WAS LEE RIGHT TO call the police? The reaction in South Korea was muted. A few voices on the internet criticized JTBC for “irrevocably opening the journalism parallel to Pandora’s Box.” They stated that the role of the journalist should be to observe and report, not to become an active participant, and that JTBC had taken advantage of its own actions in being the first to report the arrest as exclusive news.

But, generally, people in Korea were so angry at President Park and her associates that most tended to believe it was in the public interest to have young Chung arrested as soon as possible. The public image of her was a spoiled young girl who had greatly benefited from corruption, entering schools and universities using political pressure on school authorities. Business giants like Samsung had paid for her horses and her stud farm rental fees. Many thought the journalists’ task in that situation was to collaborate in the arrest.

I READ ABOUT THE incident the following day on a Danish news website: a report that the Danish police had arrested the so-called “horse girl” after a tip from a South Korean journalist. It made me wonder, as it did many of my colleagues from all over the world that I later talked to about the case. Calling the police? It’s something that you just don’t do. It makes you too much a part of the story.

A few months later, while in Seoul on another assignment, I contacted Lee Ga-hyuk hoping to talk about what really happened during those hectic days in Germany and Denmark. We had a quiet and informal talk – as colleagues – on the ground floor of JTBC’s modern headquarters in Seoul’s so-called “digital media city.” JTBC has recently become an extremely popular television channel, especially among the young. It has the same owner as one of the established conservative newspapers, but has a liberal image. And it’s considered a critical voice to the government and power.


Their headline read, “JTBC called the police for fear of escape” – you can hardly play a more proactive role in a news story than that.


It wasn’t as if JTBC tried to hide its involvement in Chung’s arrest at the time. Their headline read, “JTBC called the police for fear of escape” – you can hardly play a more proactive role in a news story than that.

Upon orders from his editors, Lee Ga-hyuk had refused to give interviews to several Danish media while in Denmark. But it was obvious that he knew of our concerns, and he wanted to explain.

Lee emphasizes that their original intention – as they drove from Germany to northern Jutland – was to find Chung Yoo-ra, talk to her and give her an opportunity to explain herself. That was the report he wanted to send home. But the doors and shutters to the villa remained closed and his story was at a standstill.

“I KNOW JOURNALISTS should not be part of their own stories,” Lee says. “But I don’t think these ethics can be used in our situation. We had driven more than 900 kilometers. We had waited for a day. It was dark and we were freezing. The neighbors were suspicious of us, and I can’t blame them for suspecting we were Asian terrorists. And we were afraid of getting beaten by Chung Yoo-ra’s bodyguards.”

I asked him why, after confirming that Chung was in the house, he didn’t just do a stand-up report from in front of the house, reporting the facts. “We did consider that as a possible solution,” Lee says. “Another possibility was to wait in hope that she would choose to talk to us. But we began to fear she would flee or destroy evidence.”

No1-2017-08Asg3The author in discussion with Lee in Seoul.

The final decision was not Lee’s alone. “We discussed the matter with our editors and lawyers in South Korea,” he says. “We felt we had to speed up the process, so we chose to go to the Danish authorities.”

Lee stressed that he did not go to the police in order to be able to film the arrest and get footage of the arrest as an exclusive. He claims that he and his cameraman had no idea in advance that they would be allowed to be present at the arrest. In fact, in the end, they were only allowed to be there at a relatively long distance.

AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF legal limbo, Chung Yoo-ra was extradited to Seoul in late May where she was arrested, but later released, and now awaits trial. Her mother is in court, as is the former president she served. Meanwhile, South Korea has elected a new president and is looking forward.

“It's a big word to use, but during those days in northern Denmark, we actually felt like we were on a mission,” Lee Ga-hyuk explains. “We felt we represented all South Koreans. We were their eyes and ears while they were waiting at home for any news.

“So we chose to become part of the story.”

Asger Rojle Christensen was Tokyo correspondent for various Danish news media from 1989 until 1995 and again from 2013. He is based in Japan as a journalist/analyst reporting on Asia. (A Danish version of this article was first published in Journalisten.)



If . . .


In 1945, the U.S. tried using the Vatican as a route for peace feelers to Japan. But the destination of the cables outlining the offer remains a mystery.

by Eiichiro Tokumoto

On May 27 last year, following the G7 Summit at Ise-Shima, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. Accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama laid a floral wreath at the cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims and, in the speech that followed, expressed his wish to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama’s historic visit received worldwide coverage by the media, including many FCCJ members. In his address, he noted: “Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.”


Many people feel that raising the hypothetical question “what if?” is a useless exercise. And while it’s true that such hypotheses cannot be proved, it’s hard to resist asking questions such as this one: “If Japan had somehow agreed to end the war sooner – even by just a month – could the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been avoided?”

For Martin Quigley, a U.S. agent for the forerunner of the CIA during WWII, the question was not simply an academic exercise, but one with an answer that he might have affected if things had gone differently. The following story is one he kept secret, even from his own family, for many years.

Martin S. Quigley was born in Chicago in November 1917. Following graduation from Georgetown University, he went to work as a reporter for Motion Picture Daily. But when war broke out, he volunteered for and was accepted by the newly established Office of Strategic Services.


‘Martin, I want you to be alert to the opening of communication with Japan, looking to their surrender, using your Vatican contacts.’


Quigley underwent training as a field operative, receiving instruction in communications through cyphers and training in firearms, demolition and other accouterments of the spy trade. He was then posted to Ireland in 1943 where, under cover as a representative of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, he collected political and military intelligence.

After a brief return to the U.S., Quigley was assigned to Rome under the same cover in December 1944. The operation was under the direct orders of OSS director Maj. Gen. William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan.

“I met Donovan at his office at OSS headquarters,” Quigley told me in an interview at his home in Hartford, Connecticut, in May 2009, “and the conversation was very brief. He said, ‘Martin, I want you to be alert to the opening of communication with Japan, looking to their surrender, using your Vatican contacts.’”

That the OSS spymaster himself would send Quigley on such a delicate mission to make contacts with Japan points to its political importance. But both Donovan and Quigley were practicing Roman Catholics and their religious backgrounds were instrumental in helping them gain access to intelligence from church sources, not only in Rome and parts of German-occupied Europe, but from Asia as well.

Speaking of his former boss, Quigley told me, “Donovan was soft-spoken, old-fashioned and a man of great vision. He was eager to undertake any scheme he thought had some chance to help end the war.”


Martin S. Quigley of the OSS


SO ONE AFTERNOON IN May 1945, soon after Germany’s surrender, Quigley invited Italian priest and Vatican diplomat Monsignor Egidio Vagnozzi to his Rome apartment. After raising a celebratory toast of beer to the German surrender, Quigley disclosed his true role as an undercover agent of OSS and solicited Vagnozzi’s assistance.

He asked Vagnozzi to be the contact in an attempt to open up communications with Tokyo regarding a possible surrender scenario. Should there be interest on the part of the Japanese government, he told the priest, top level negotiators could be available on short notice for secret meetings in or near Rome.

Quigley’s approach was not an easy one. “I had to not only disclose my actual role of OSS agent but also had to seek cooperation,” he said. “I knew it would be difficult because it was generally known that Pope [Pius XII] had given orders to all his people not to get involved with exactly what I was assigned. This was outside his personal charge. But I was able to convince Vagnozzi that as a priest he had higher responsibility.”

Vagnozzi moved quickly. He contacted a Japanese priest who was an adviser to the Japanese mission and Quigley’s message was conveyed to Ken Harada, the diplomatic envoy. This ignited a furious debate at the mission over whether or not Tokyo should be notified, since there were concerns, of course, that the approach might be viewed as a plot by enemy spies.


This ignited a furious debate at the mission over whether or not Tokyo should be notified.


In any event, Harada sent a cable at the beginning of June outlining Quigleys proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After several days with no response from Tokyo, the envoy, through Vagnozzi, asked the American to provide detailed terms of surrender. A somewhat bewildered Quigley, on his own initiative, replied that the terms would include preserving the emperor system and other points.

But the lines from Tokyo remained silent. The next month, on July 26, the Potsdam Declaration was issued, and within the next two weeks, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading Japan to declare unconditional surrender on Aug. 15. In the end, the OSS Vatican initiative had come to naught.

When I showed curiosity about the results of his offer, Quigley told me, “If I were in your position, I would concentrate on finding out why the Japanese Foreign Office didn’t respond to Harada’s cables. I was later told that it was very unusual that the two cables were not acknowledged. They didn’t even let Harada know the cables were received. Why?”

I ASKED HIM THEN what he thought would happen if the feelers via the Vatican had made their way through channels. “The bombs would not have been dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he replied. “More importantly, had we not dropped the bombs, other major powers would have no incentive to try to develop them. I think the idea of an atomic bomb-free world could have been a real possibility.” He expressed similar thoughts in a memoir of his time at the Vatican titled Peace Without Hiroshima, published in 1991.

So I went in search of the cables’ destination, and found copies in the Diplomatic Archives of the Foreign Ministry. The first, received on June 5, 1945 was recorded as “Top Secret cable No. 53.” The second, received June 14, marked cable No. 59, totaled 10 pages of text and contained proposals from “an American in Rome.” There were the seals of Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, a vice minister and a director on the two cables, indicating they had been read by top-level Foreign Ministry officials. What happened after that is a mystery.


This is clearly at odds with Quigley’s account that no reply was received.


The web site of Japan’s Diplomatic Archives describes the Vatican operation of the OSS as having been conducted by “a person of unknown identity and purpose,” and indicates that Japan replied negatively to the proposal to open negotiations, and that the OSS approach did not lead to any concrete negotiations. This is clearly at odds with Quigley’s account that no reply was received.

Nor is this account the only dubious matter. A book published by a private publisher in the 1970s titled The Diplomacy of Japan, produced under the editorial direction of former senior Foreign Ministry officials, includes what is claimed to be the full text of the two cables from Harada. However, it appears that portions of the documents had been deliberately altered. For example, references to the surrender terms that Quigley had relayed had been deleted from the text that appeared in the book.

Surprisingly, the person who had requested the revisions was Harada, the former Japanese envoy to the Vatican. The book’s editing had been supervised, in fact, by the former vice foreign minister and the director who had both seen Harada’s cables from Rome.

IT TURNS OUT THAT Quigley had also attempted to find out what happened. In February, 1972 he sent a letter to Harada, in which he revealed his role in Rome as an OSS operative, writing: “I think that you and I have an obligation to history but an even greater obligation to the future. . . . the ends of historical research and future needs would be well served if some light could be shed on what happened to your message or messages in Tokyo. Why was there no response? Was the explanation that word never reached the persons who could act on the possibility of secret peace-making talks in Rome? Or did the word reach high authority that made the decision not to respond favorably?”

Harada replied to Quigley that, at the time, Tokyo had already decided to seek peace via the Soviet Union and that it was quite impossible to alter that policy. Then he added, “What is more significant for me in looking back from now is that before the outbreak of war, His Majesty the Emperor had ordered the Government to open diplomatic relations with the Vatican and to dispatch an envoy there in order to be ready for peace negotiations in case of war which he was most anxious to prevent. . . . So much so I personally feel very sorry that I remained quite unserviceable to attain the original desire of His Majesty although I was there at the Vatican as His Special Envoy.”


It’s entirely possible that Harada was moved to alter the text of the book out of feelings of guilt over his failure to comply with the Emperor’s wishes.


Surprising as it sounds, it’s true that even before the war had commenced, Emperor Hirohito had apparently considered going through the Holy See to negotiate its end. This was borne out in the posthumously published Showa Tenno Dokuhaku Roku (The Showa Emperor’s Monologue), which highlighted his awareness of the Holy See’s spiritual influence around the world. He believed that the Vatican could be useful, both as a source of information and for helping to bring the war to a conclusion, and in 1942, not long after Pearl Harbor, Japan established diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

Knowing this, it’s entirely possible that Harada was moved to alter the text of the book out of feelings of guilt over his failure to comply with the Emperor’s wishes.

Of course, in the end the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, nullifying the Japan-Soviet Neutrality Treaty. It can never be known whether the peace feelers via the Vatican could have ended the war sooner and prevented the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In his letter to Harada, Quigley wrote, “I think we should rest easy in the confidence that each of us did the best we could in the light of prevailing circumstances. I think it is a mistake to look at the past through ‘what-might-have-been’ concerns. However, I believe that it is most important that everyone, especially policy-makers in governments, learn from the past.”

On Feb. 5, 2011 Martin Quigley passed away in Hartford, Connecticut at the age of 93. According to a family member at his bedside, his final words were, “Thank God for all the wonders.”

Eiichiro Tokumoto, a former Reuters correspondent, is an author and investigative journalist.




From the Archives: The Enduring Politician and Ambassador


The FCCJ’s event program for 1982 led off on Jan. 6 with U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield, here applauding a humorous comment offered by Club president Edwin Reingold (Time magazine), apparently aimed at a bearded Richard Pyle (AP), who smiles in response. Mansfield, a retired Democratic senator who had been appointed ambassador to Tokyo in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter, also a Democrat, was asked to continue in that role in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. He did so, and became the longest-serving U.S. ambassador in Japan by serving until 1988. Mansfield, who had also spoken at the Club some two years earlier, was highly respected for his even-handed handling of bilateral disputes.

“Enduring” would seem an appropriate word to describe Mike Mansfield, for he had also been the longest-serving majority leader in the U.S. Senate, holding that position for 16 of his 24 years in that body. As such, he was a key man in passing legislation in the 1960s as part of President Johnson’s “Great Society.”

Born in New York City in 1903, Mike Mansfield was sent to live with relatives in Montana at the age of three, following the death of his mother. He overcame difficult younger years and gained a hard-earned education, with the help of his wife, Maureen, that led to his many years in Congress representing the state of Montana.

Prior to becoming a senator, he served ten years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in the U.S. Navy in WWI, followed by a year in the U.S. Army and another two in the U.S. Marine Corps that took him to Asia and sparked his interest in the area.

Although known for his centrist approach to divisive issues and self-effacing modesty, Mansfield was also noted for expressing strongly held opinions. One of these was his early opposition to continuation of the Vietnam War. This led to his promotion of legislation that became the War Powers Act of 1973, limiting the president’s authority to commit U.S. forces without the consent of Congress. In addition to many other honors, in 1989 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, following his retirement as ambassador. He died in 2001, at the age of 98.

– Charles Pomeroy, editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, a history of the Club that is available at the front desk

New Members and New Books in the Library




AKIRA SAITO graduated from Waseda University in 1966. He later attended the University of California at Berkeley where he got a Master’s Degree in Journalism in 1968, and joined the Yomiuri Shimbun, where he served in New York and Washington D.C. He returned to the Tokyo office in 1970 as a Foreign News Department staffer and was later posted to the city desk. In 1976, he returned to Washington, covering two widely-publicized sandals – Lockheed and Korea-gate – as well as two presidential elections, later becoming Washington bureau chief until 1996. Although he has “semi-officially” retired, he still considers himself an “active journalist” despite his age.


YOSUKE WATANABE is a senior feature and editorial writer at Kyodo News. Watanabe studied at Sophia University in Tokyo and Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass. U.S. as a Rotary scholar. He joined Kyodo News in 1983, and has been stationed in Washington D.C., Shanghai and Hong Kong. Watanabe was twice the Beijing bureau chief, from 2004-2008 and 2013-2016, where he held posts on the board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.

Brian Covert, Freelance

Yasuyuki Abe, Hutchison Whampoa Japan Limited
Kazuhiro Bai, Reitaku University
Kiyotake Hara, STEM PLUS JAPAN
Masahiro Ishikawa, System Soft
Masatoshi Sakane, JETRO
Hidenori Takei, Mitsubishi Corporation




New in the Library


Min Jin Lee

Grand Central Publishing

Gift from Min Jin Lee


The Tales of Ise

Donald Keene (fwd.); Peter MacMillan (trans. and commentary)

Penguin Books

Gift from Peter McMillan


Eigo de yomu hyakunin isshu

Peter McMillan

Bungei Shunju

Gift from Peter McMillan


Tanaka Kakuei saigo no intabyu

Osamu Sato

Bungei Shunju

Gift from Osamu Sato


Itaria hakushaku ito no machi o yuku: meiji ninen no joshu shisatsu tabinikki

Hideki Tomizawa

Jomo Shinbunsha Jigyokyoku Shuppanbu

Gift from Hideki Tomizawa


Nanyaku waei kogo jiten

Michihiro Matsumoto


Gift from Michihiro Matsumoto


Pacific Burn: A Thriller

Barry Lancet

Simon & Schuster

Gift from Barry Lancet


Hodo shashinten kinen shashinshu. Dai 57 kai (2016 nen)

Tokyo Shashin Kisha Kyokai

Gift from Kumiko Hatanaka (Tokyo Press Photographers Association)


Kankoku kenkyu no sakigake Sai Shoben: nikkan kankeishi o ikita otoko.

Akira Hashimoto


Gift from Akira Hashimoto


East Asian Strategic Review 2017

The National Institute for Defense Studies

Gift from The National Institute for Defense Studies


Yoshida’s Dilemma: One Man's Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe Fukushima - March 2011

Rob Gilhooly

Inknbeans Press


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