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Number 1 Shimbun

Pretexts Over North Korea

Pretexts Over North Korea

By Gregory Clark

Pretexts come in shapes and sizes.

The 1961 U.S. Operation Mongoose involved faked and real terrorist activities that could be blamed on Castro and used as an excuse for invasion of Cuba. The domino theory was used as a pretext to get allies involved in the Vietnamese civil war. The faked 1964 Tonkin Gulf affair was used as an excuse to bomb North Vietnam for ten years. Non-existent WMD were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And so on.

Japan has also had one or two pretexts up its sleeve, beginning with the staged 1931 Mukden Incident used as the excuse to occupy Manchuria, and the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge and Shanghai incidents, used as justification to invade all China.

Postwar Japan has claimed to be better behaved But when we hear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, who cut his teeth in Manchuria – telling us that Japan has to rearm to cope with an alleged North Korean nuclear threat, and that alleged abductees justify blocking the talks that would remove that threat, one begins to wonder.

We can begin with the alleged nuclear threat. In its 1950-53 war with South Korea, the United States and other allies, North Korea suffered three years of pulverizing bombardment. As one of the Australian pilots involved put it to me, “After we bombed all the villages we began to bomb the cows. And when we ran out of cows we bombed the haystacks.”

That war ended with only a ceasefire – neither a peace treaty nor any form of diplomatic recognition. Lacking normalized relations with its hostile antagonists, Pyongyang seems to have reached the same conclusion as a number of other nations in the same situation: Go nuclear. But unlike, for example, Israel, whose nuclear development was allowed to go ahead in 1964, North Korea in 1994 faced the threat of more U.S. bombing if it proceeded – a threat staved off at the last moment with a promise to cease further nuclear development in exchange for the promise of normalized relations with the U.S., the 1994 Agreed Framework.

But the normalization never happened. And so North Korea continued its nuclear development. Would North Korea have stopped if the U.S. had stuck to its 1994 promises? Maybe, if it could have trusted the U.S. But as Pyongyang will tell anyone who listens, the examples of Iraq and Libya prove that anyone who gives up nuclear development in exchange for non-attack promises from Western powers is very foolish.

Meanwhile the U.S. claims that North Korea is developing weapons of mass destruction that threaten the U.S., even though the idea that little North Korea would want to launch a surprise nuclear rocket attack against the U.S. and be obliterated in retaliation seems strange.

The Tokyo government’s urgent calls for public caution and preparation against the alleged danger of North Korean attack reach the same levels of incredibility. But a gullible public goes along with it all, which adds to support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. In Japanese it is called match pump. With the match you light a fire. Then with your pump you claim the right to put out the fire that you yourself created.

True, Tokyo’s hostility to North Korea was also based on reports that North Korea had been holding people it had abducted from Japan back in the 1970s and ‘80s. And for a long time both Pyongyang and leftwing elements in Japan had stridently denied those reports. But in secret negotiations with senior Japanese diplomat Hitoshi Tanaka, beginning in 2000, Pyongyang was persuaded to admit it had abducted 13 people, of whom, it claimed, only five survived.

This was followed by a 2002 visit to Pyongyang by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and an extraordinary public apology for the abductions by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who blamed them on rogue elements that would be punished. The five surviving abductees could visit Japan, provided they could return afterward to their families in North Korea.

In exchange Koizumi offered an apology for past Japanese colonization abuses against Korea and a range of generous economic aid. That, combined with the promise to consult on East Asian policies and to put a moratorium on rocket testing, all wrapped up in a document called the Pyongyang Declaration, marked a remarkable breakthrough in relations. Overnight, Japan seemed to go from hostility toward its communist neighbor to a warm embrace.

But the bonhomie did not last long. The five abductees arrived in Japan as promised, but they were not allowed return to North Korea. From being abducted by North Korea, they were “abducted” by Japan. Tokyo demanded that the relatives come to Japan, even if that meant some must interrupt their education in North Korea.

Once again Pyongyang backed down and in 2004 Koizumi revisited Pyongyang to collect relatives and to reconfirm the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration with its promises of economic aid and normalized relations. But this time he was accompanied by Abe, then deputy cabinet secretary, who was determined to block those promises. Back in Japan Abe began to insist he had evidence North Korea was secretly holding more abductees, many more even, including one named Megumi Yokota, abducted at age 13.

Koizumi said nothing to refute the Abe claims. Rightists threatened to firebomb Tanaka’s house. And so the promise of normalized relations was allowed to disappear into a miasma of hatred of and contempt for North Korea.

It seems obvious that if Abe really was worried about rescuing Japanese languishing in a North Korean hell, then the first thing he should have done was encourage some form of Japanese presence in Pyongyang to assist in the search and rescue efforts. Instead he preferred to use the issue as yet another pretext to refuse any presence in Pyongyang, to impose the strictest possible sanctions on North Korea and to veto any talk of negotiations over the nuclear issue.

Worse, he would go on to warn South Korea away from making an attempt to reconcile with North Korea – a warning that seems very much out of place today as both Koreas seem keen to begin talking to each other again.

In a bid to ease Japan’s abductee trauma Pyongyang, insisting that Megumi Yokota had died in 1994, produced what it said were charred bones from her cremation to prove it. This then allowed Tokyo to claim it had done a DNA testing of the bones and the result was negative – further proof that Pyongyang was lying. But scientific controversy erupted over the quality of the tests and over the basic question of whether decisive tests were possible under the circumstances.

A leading scientific magazine, Nature, came out to insist accurate DNA testing of charred bones was impossible. It followed up with an editorial: "Japan is right to doubt North Korea's every statement. But its interpretation of the DNA tests has crossed the boundary of science's freedom from political interference.

Tokyo, after rejecting the Pyongyang request to return some of the bones for more objective testing elsewhere, doubled down with claims of Megumi sightings. Her attractive image was made focal to sustaining the abductee issue rage in Japan. Her elderly parents have been taken to meet two U.S. presidents in a bid to encourage U.S. outrage over the issue.

Japanese public support for the government’s position is strong, and not just because an uncritical public wants to go along with whatever Tokyo dictates. Partly it is due to an ingrained dislike of Korea and Koreans. But partly also it is genuine distress over the idea that Japanese citizens could be abducted and held by a foreign country. Even educated audiences will bristle if someone tries to suggest that Tokyo may have manipulated the issue for ulterior goals.

In 2009 well known progressive commentator Soichiro Tahara, speaking on Asahi TV, quoted an unnamed high level Foreign Ministry official as saying that Megumi Yokota and Keiko Arimoto, two of the best-known abductees, had died. He immediately came under attack from the two powerful abductee support organizations, which enjoy rightwing and government backing.

The foreign minister at the time, Hirofumi Nakasone, said his ministry worked from the assumption that all the claimed abductees were alive and should be returned to Japan as soon as possible. Tahara responded with a deep apology for having spoken about the two deaths but said he would not reveal the source of his information. He was then hit with a claim in a Kobe court for 10 million yen in damages for having caused emotional upset to the Arimoto parents.

Soon after, a media watchdog organization that seeks to enforce “broadcasting morality” ruled that both Tahara and Asahi TV should make proper apologies – i.e., their earlier apologies were not sufficient. Ordered by the Kobe court to reveal his sources, Tahara appealed to the higher Osaka court, which agreed with his position. Even so he was found liable on the original damages charge by the lower court and fined one million yen.

Hardly anyone came to the support of Tahara. The silence was damning in a nation that claims the right to freedom of speech. I, too, was to be a victim of the hysteria when a rightwing Sankei Shimbun commentator attacked me by misquoting me on the abductee issue. Overnight I could feel the freeze of hostile public opinion. I was asked to relinquish a high-level appointment with a large trading company.

In 2014 Tokyo finally relented and allowed the long-suffering Yokota parents to visit Megumi’s daughter, Kim Eun-kyung. But the visit had to be in Mongolia, where it was said that their granddaughter could talk freely. (Previous moves to talk to the granddaughter in Pyongyang or third countries had been blocked or bitterly criticized as siding with Pyongyang propaganda.)

Reports of the four-day visit made no mention of whether Megumi continued to exist or not, despite the years of Tokyo propaganda based on her presumed survival. When the parents returned from the visit I was able to ask them why they had made no mention of Megumi. The mother, the intelligent Sakie Yokota, simply said that they had gone to Mongolia to provide support for other abductee families.


Marvel Legend Stan Lee Visits the FCCJ

No1-2018-01 Stan Lee


Marvel Legend Stan Lee Visits the FCCJ

by Catherine Makino

"When I saw a fly on the wall I thought, ‘Wouldn't it be great if we had a superhero who could stick on walls, like a fly or any other insect? It would be fun.’ But somehow calling him Fly-man didn't sound dramatic enough, so I thought, ‘What else could it be? Mosquito-man?’ And then I said, ‘Spider-man!’ It sounded so dramatic.”

Lee, who besides Spiderman has created other modern superhero myths – the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and more – talked about his characters and their creation at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on November 30.

The 94-year-old chairman emeritus of Marvel Entertainment was visiting Japan for December’s Comic-Con event and had spent the first part of the day being driven through the city in a Super Mario cart.

Lee explained that his success in creating globally iconic figures lies in the fact that he writes for himself. “If I liked this story I felt it has to be good, cause I’m a normal guy and I like it,” he said. “If there’s a story I like, there must be millions of other people with similar tastes and they’d like it too. So I never, ever wrote for other people. I always wrote for myself. I wanted to please me.”

When advising aspiring writers, he warns them that “so many people try to write for other people. By that I mean they’ll say, ‘I think this story would be good for people from 25 to 30’ or ‘this would be good for somebody from 18 to 22.’ . . . I never tried to write for any particular age group or social group.”

Lee grew up in New York City during the Depression. His father often was unemployed, so he took jobs as office boy, dress cutter and usher to help his family. For a while he prepared obituaries for aging celebrities who were still alive, but he quit that gig because it was "too depressing.”

His mother, he recalled, “thought I was the greatest thing on two feet. I'd come home with a little composition I had written at school and she'd look at it and say, ‘It's wonderful! You're another Shakespeare!’”

Shakespeare in fact was one of his inspirations. Others were Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle.

“I always assumed I could do anything. It really is amazing how much that has to do with your attitude.”

Lee shared his secrets for inventing a successful superhero. Such a character, he said, must be one we haven’t seen before, an exaggeration of real life but, at the same time, believable. “You always need to come up with different ideas. The hero's life has to be interesting and the villain has to appear stronger than the hero.”

Take Spiderman, for example. Lee wanted to make the character different, interesting, a different kind of hero, so that the reader would care about him. For that, he would have his own personality, hang-ups, quirks and problems.

Indeed, Spiderman emerged as a teenager with personal problems, including a lack of money. His publisher initially thought it was a bad idea, because heroes were not any of these things.

It’s people who have problems, he told Lee, “not superheroes.” But after Spiderman became the bestselling comic of the month, the publisher asked for more superhero stories like it.

The world of comics has changed from when Lee started writing them when he was 17 years old. At that time, teachers and parents condemned comic books because they were just about people punching each other, according to Lee. Later, people realized the medium could be used to tell good stories, and comic books and graphic novels have become a form of literature.

Today the genre “is selling bigger and better than ever,” Lee said. “Movies have helped the comic books and the books helped the movies.” He's happy about the way the studios have handled his characters, and always takes a cameo role playing other people in each movie. His favorite part was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” where Thor, a famous god in Norse mythology, had told him not to take a drink, but he did anyway and became roaring drunk and had to be carried out.

There’s more to come. “The next one will be a villain who is the most powerful villain that has ever appeared in comic books,” Lee said. “If our heroes, the Avengers, don't conquer that villain, it will be the most dangerous threat mankind has ever faced.”

His apocalyptic focus aside, Lee remains funny and energetic. When asked the secret to his longevity, he laughed. “Greed,” he replied. “Maybe being busy is one of the best tonics,” he added, “because when you're busy working on something, you're not thinking about yourself – as long as you're not busy being a villain. That’s not a good way to be busy.”

A One-Time Victim Raises Her Voice Against Chikan

No1-2018-01 One Time Victim


A One-Time Victim Raises Her Voice Against Chikan

by Johann Fleuri 

Everyone living in Japan has heard of the chikan, those men who ride on crowded trains in order to assault young girls, often high-school teenagers in uniforms. Now one of their victims, a woman in her thirties who writes under the nom de plume Kumi Sasaki, has spoken out. In a book published in France in October, she describes hundreds of the assaults that she bore almost daily on the Yamanote Line, as a middle school and high school student.

At 8:30 AM, employees are going to work, kids to school. For the next hour trains of the Yamanote Line, which move around and around Tokyo's hotspots, will be completely packed – so crowded that station attendants have to literally push passengers into the cars before the doors can close.

Two decades ago, Kumi Sasaki rode this line daily to go to her private school. At the beginning, she was very new to Tokyo since she’d been living in Hong Kong with her parents and younger brother.

She was on her way to take an important exam when she encountered her first chikan on the Yamanote. She was 12 years, two months and 24 days years old.

Even now, she remembers the assault vividly. “It lasted for seven minutes” – like an eternity to her child’s mind. “He touched my breast with his thumb. I thought at first it was an accident since all the passengers were so close in the packed car. But he never moved his finger. He kept it here, on me. After a moment, he put his hand under my skirt. I was terrified.”

Her knees were still shaking when she arrived at school. She went straight to her teacher – “who didn't react at all.” Then, in the evening, she confided in her mother – “who didn't understand what I was trying to say.” After that, she gave up trying to talk about it.

Years went by and chikan became more numerous. Through the pages of her book, written after she had settled down in France, she recounts the assaults that she had to bear almost daily, in silence, through her 18th year. They happened in the train, mostly, but sometimes in the street.

“I remember this one time, a chikan followed me when I got out of the train. He kept walking behind me and asked me to go somewhere with him. I was so scared that he would see where I lived and could come back anytime he would want to.” After a moment, the man stopped following and left her a little more broken inside. Another time, a chikan who had assaulted her in the Yamanote looked her in the eyes as he exited the train and said, “Thank you.”

“I wanted to scream. ‘Thank you’ for what? I had no will for that to happen.”

One morning, Sasaki thought about dying. She just wanted everything to stop. She felt ready to jump under the train, the same infamous train that had been the theater of her intense suffering for many years. “My friend from school saw me that day and came to talk to me. I never knew if she guessed what I was going to do.”

Now Kumi Sasaki is in her thirties. She divides her time between Tokyo and Paris, where she has been living for about ten years. Almost two decades had to pass before she put words to what happened to her, co-writing her story with a Japanese-speaking French novelist.

“I am ready to try to make things change by speaking out about what happened to me when I was a child,” Sasaki says. “People tend to think that chikan are just fetishists who like to touch young girls’ skirts but it's worse. They are sexual predators who should be stopped.”

“One thing is certain,” she adds. “Today, nothing has changed on the Yamanote.”

That fact is confirmed by Akiyoshi Saito, author of The Reasons Why Men Become Chikan, published in Japan last summer.

The Ota-ku, Tokyo, clinic where Saito works, specializing in addictions, runs a program for chikan who want to be cured of their perversion. In twelve years, the clinic has received over 3200 chikan patients and he has had to refuse applications due to the limited capacity of his establishment, he says.

The typical chikan, Saito says, is an otherwise ordinary salaryman, married with kids, with a university degree, typically thought of as the perfect dad, the best employee of his company, the most caring husband. “When he gets on the train, he just changes in a second.”

Frustrated by a tiring, stressful daily routine over which he has little control, “he feels lucky, all of a sudden, to have inadvertently touched the hand of a woman. For some of them, it is the beginning of a series of assaults they cannot control anymore. It is becoming an addiction. In the most extreme cases, they can spend a whole day in different trains to assault as many as twenty girls. They attack the most fragile and vulnerable ones.”

The chikan phenomenon has dramatically increased since the 1990s, Saito asserts. “Our clinic specializes in all kinds of addictions that are represented in the country – sex addiction, workaholism, alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia and so on. Chikan by far outnumber the others among our patients.”

He estimates that there are 10,000 chikan in Japan, concentrated in larger cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo – cities whose residents have to deal with crowded trains every weekday. “In the old days, chikan were in the streets,” Satio says. “They couldn’t act out their fantasies as discreetly as they are able to do in the crowded train carriages.”

The female victims for the most part remain quiet. “We are ashamed, explains Kumi Sasaki. A girl who would speak out publicly about such a situation is considered to have humiliated herself, becoming dirty in the eyes of Japanese society, she says. “It is like she is a lost cause and people would say she will never find a husband.”

Looking for explanations of the problem, Sasaki notes that Japanese private schools, contrary to public schools, generally are not coeducational. “Many teenagers grow up asking themselves a lot of questions about the other sex, without receiving answers. That was my case.”

Commercial outlets substitute for sound instruction regarding real intimacy. Youngsters are daily exposed to pornography through manga, films and free-access Internet. “When I was in high school, I didn't know anything about making love and sexuality but I knew the price for one hour with an escort girl,” she recalls.

Chikan, she thinks, “assault high school girls because they are symbols of pure innocence and virginity in Japan. Fantasies about school-girl uniforms are tied to this, I guess.”

Aware of the problem, JR companies and some other operators of commuter lines have launched women-only cars in Japan's biggest cities, starting with Osaka. The system has existed since 1912, but by no means does it protect everyone. “There are so many people that it is sometimes hard to reach the women-only cars,” Kumi Sasaki says. “And anyway, there are not enough of those cars for every woman to board them.”

Two-thirds of young women aged 20 to 30 years old report having being groped in trains, according to a survey run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and East Japan Railway Co. To make matters worse, the thick crowds make it hard to identify the chikan and prosecute cases.

Thus, even today, after all those years, when Sasaki rides the Yamanote line she feels again “the terror of the 12-years-old me.”


His Hidden Acting Talent - A Memorable Evening With Konosuke Matsushita, Founder of Panasonic

No1-2018-01 Hidden Acting Talent


His Hidden Acting Talent - A Memorable Evening With Konosuke Matsushita, Founder of Panasonic

by Hans Brinckmann

During the years I worked in the Osaka branch of my Dutch bank, the Nationale Handelsbank, from 1956 to 1961, I used to commute, for a time, by Rabbit motor scooter from my home in Nigawa, Nishinomiya City. Once a Japanese colleague hitched a ride, and on the way to our office in the Semba quarter of Osaka, he pointed to a bicycle store where (he said) half a century earlier the young Konosuke Matsushita had been apprenticed from the age of ten. Konosuke was born in 1894 to a land-owning family in Wakayama Prefecture, but his father got involved in reckless rice speculation, and lost all his property, leaving his family destitute.

The bicycle store wasn’t even the boy’s first place of work. He was only nine when his tearful mother, desperate for some income for the family, took him out of school and sent him off to Osaka to serve as dogsbody in a small shop selling hibachi, the charcoal braziers then used in every household. When that shop went out of business in a matter of months, little Konosuke managed to get hired by the bicycle dealer.

During his years there, Konosuke learned basic metalworking skills. At the Osaka Electric Light Company, which he joined when he was sixteen, he got interested in lighting fixtures. He invented a new socket, and in 1918, at age 23, founded the Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works to manufacture and market it. That was the beginning of the company that rose to world prominence and in 2008 was to change its name to Panasonic, after its principal brand.

I first met Mr. Matsushita in the late 1950s in his capacity of president of the Japan-Netherlands Society in the Kansai. This position resulted from the alliance Matsushita had formed in 1952 with Philips of the Netherlands, in order to tap the Dutch company’s know-how. Mr. Matsushita’s prowess as an industrialist was not matched by his quality as a public speaker. The long speeches he gave at the Society’s general meetings were met with deep silence and nodding heads, punctuated by the intermittent sound of printed programs plopping on the marble floor of the meeting hall.

But Mr. Matsushita was not without a sense of humour. That became evident when, one cold evening in January 1967, he was the guest of honour at a small reception at the Tokyo residence of the Philips representative in Japan, Jan van Gemert. As I had moved to Tokyo in 1962 to head up the branch of my bank there, and knew the Philips people well, I was invited to the event. Van Gemert was about to return to the Netherlands, and the party served to introduce his successor. During van Gemert’s years in Japan, Philips had achieved a leading world position in electronics, helped in no small measure by their invention of the compact audio cassette tape in 1963. Matsushita, meanwhile, was a growing force in the U.S. market, with quality products such as radios and high-fidelity sound equipment.

Van Gemert gave a little speech welcoming his honoured guest, and thanking him once again for the farewell gift Matsushita had sent him recently, a valuable antique teacup of the kind used in the Japanese tea ceremony. In his reply, Matsushita hoped that van Gemert was taking good care of the cup, and would continue to do so, as it symbolized the bond they had forged over the years. “Of course,” was van Gemert’s reaction, “The cup is right here, in its antique box. I keep it in there for safety!” He pointed to a small, weathered wooden box of paulownia wood sitting on a display shelf nearby.

“Well,” said Matsushita, “to tell the truth, I would like to see the cup once more. Will you allow me to hold the cup in my hands once again, before it goes off to Europe?” With a broad smile van Gemert picked up the box, carefully loosened the silk ribbon around it, and took off the lid. Then his jaw dropped. The box was empty.

He looked in horrified astonishment at Matsushita, who joined him in consternation at the shocking discovery. Then, after savouring the moment briefly, Matsushita put his host’s mind at rest. An assistant who accompanied him to the reception handed him another, new-looking, box. Brandishing it like a trophy, Matsushita exclaimed: “Here it is, Gemert-san! I have your teacup right here!”

The perplexed Van Gemert gazed uncomprehendingly at the cup his guest had taken out of the box, and then at his guest’s impish face. Finally, Matsushita explained.

His office had received a phone call from a pawnbroker who had been asked for a loan against an antique teacup, brought in by a nervous fellow. Without the box, which bore the potter’s inscription and name seal, the cup’s value was difficult to assess, and the pawnbroker told the customer to leave the cup with him and come back in a day or two. But the fellow said he was in acute need of cash and even a small loan would do, so the broker gave him a few yen. After the man left, the pawnbroker consulted an antique art dealer of his acquaintance, who tentatively identified the cup’s provenance. It was, he said, by a famous potter and probably a listed work of art. Enquiries not only confirmed his theory, but also revealed that the cup had lately been in the possession of Mr. Matsushita.

“So, it looks like you had a burglar here, Gemert-san! He probably entered from the garden, through the French doors, that’s what they often do.”
“But,” spluttered van Gemert, “how could he know about the cup? And why did he only take the cup, not the box! And there was nothing else missing!”
Matsushita just smiled. “That, dear Gemert-san, is for you to find out. I’ve done my part.”

Gentlemen that they were, neither of them mentioned the obvious but disturbing thought that it might have been an inside job.

Konosuke surely had come a long way from his days as a hibachi shop drudge. Not only had he achieved industrial prowess, he had become a thinker and philosopher. As early as November 1946, he founded the PHP Research Institute, an independent think tank. PHP stands for Peace and Happiness through Prosperity, a goal largely realized by his country by the time Matsushita died in 1989.

Among Matsushita’s many quotes is this one:

“A good actor is in rehearsal until the day he dies, and the same rule applies to a businessman.”

Matsushita’s life was a never-ending attempt to do things better, to break new ground, to innovate. He was, in a sense, always “in rehearsal.”

At van Gemert’s farewell, Matsushita had also proved to be a good actor. I secretly hoped that his skills would henceforth also be applied to his speechmaking.


Beyond the Social

Beyond the Social

Tokyo welcomed domestic and international automakers to Ariake Big Sight this past autumn for a biennial motor show attended by over 770,000 visitors over its 10-day run. Some 153 car and parts manufacturers took part, including 13 overseas firms, in a show aiming to go “Beyond the Motor.”

Like any major industry event, CEOs and industry experts gathered in Japan to gain corporate exposure, looking to promote their people, technologies and products. Substantial investment was made to ensure that working media and corporate communications teams could interact, with both eyeing larger audiences for their content and

Whether a motor show, film festival, Olympics or election, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan has often exploited these calendar opportunities and mutual needs to host speakers and media events that further cement our place as “Where News is Made.”

With this in mind, the newly-created Communications Committee looks to go “Beyond the Social,” pushing the annual “Hacks & Flacks” in January to become more than just a new year’s food and drink opportunity. This year we aim to hold a must-attend professional networking evening that brings our working press and professional communications membership closer together, elevating the return on investment in Club membership for both.

The feedback from previous years has been that while the event is fun, actual media and corporate interaction has been limited, so we are promoting the event to ensure greater attendance by journalists and communications representatives, and a structured networking that continues beyond the night of Friday, January 26.

Also on the Committee’s horizon this year is potentially holding a separate event for embassy, government and tourism-related professionals as well as the press, and another evening focused solely on the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, inviting key stakeholders such as organizers, corporate sponsors, team and sports organizations, athletes, and - of course - the media.

Our Club has a large and diverse membership, and these kinds of events allow us to come together in professional - and social - purpose. We want to build an even stronger Club where the value of membership is obvious, and the Committee welcomes your participation, and thoughts on how to make the FCCJ experience even better.

Dan Sloan
Communications Committee Chair



Photo Exhibition - Year of the Dog

No1-2018-01 Photo Exhibiton


Photo Exhibition - Year of the Dog

Welcome to the year of the Dog. In the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the Brown Earth Dog, which happens only once every 60 years. It is expected to be a time of ACTION!!! The prediction for 2018 is that it will overall be a good one, but also an exhausting one. Expect to be happy, yet frustrated, rested, yet tired, cheerful, yet dull!

In celebration of the New Year and man’s best friend, FCCJ Exhibition Committee would like to thank the following artists for contribution to this show.

Anzai, Hajime
Fukawa, Aiko
Hanai, Yusuke
Jullien, Jean
Kaneko, Jun
Kazama, Naomi
Mogari, Kei
Niya Niya Studio
Rozich, Stacey
Sander Studio
Sanae Sugimoto
Town Kun
Urbani, Margherita
Yokoyama, Kanta



In Memorium: Shigeo "Shig" Fujita

No1-2018-01 Fujita


In Memorium: Shigeo "Shig" Fujita

By Roger Schreffler


Longtime FCCJ member Shigeo "Shig" Fujita passed away on Dec. 29, 2015. Shig was 93.

The news was lost in the year-end shuffle two years ago, and the club failed to issue a timely notice of his passing.

It came as a shock to many of us who had known Shig, including my wife, who had inherited his job as "Tensei Jingo" translator at the old Asahi Evening News.

Fortunately, FCCJ Life Member Charles Pomeroy had written an excellent profile of Shig, which ran in the July 2015 issue of No. 1 Shimbun (see

Born in Kagoshima but raised in Seattle, Shig was repatriated to Japan in 1939 shortly after graduating from high school and failing to be granted U.S. citizenship due to exclusionary imigration laws which discriminated against Japanese and other Asians.

In 1952, he joined Asahi Evening News, where he worked for 52 years. In addition to translating Tensei Jingo, he wrote an entertainment column, "Hi Notes - Brite Lights," for 37 of those years.

We would often see him in the club hosting a visiting celebrity. Then on the weekends, he would go dancing with his wife Toshiko.

He was also correspondent for Billboard magazine from 1980 to 1990.

Shig would have turned 96 this January. He joined the FCCJ on Jan. 3, 1965. At the time of his passing, he was survived by a son and daughter and his wife.

A big loss. And thank you, Charles, for interviewing him.


New in the Library

New in the Library

Watashi nihon ni sunde imasu
Suvendrini Kakuchi
Iwanami Shoten
Gift from Suvendrini Kakuchi

Yoshimoto kogyo hyakugonenshi
Yoshimoto Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha
Yoshimoto Kogyo
Gift from Suvendrini Kakuchi

Asia's Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century
Richard McGregor

Chinese Script: History, Characters, Calligraphy
Thomas O. Horllmann; Maximiliane Donicht (trans.)
Columbia University Press

New Members (January 2018)

New Members (January 2018)

Regular Members
Junji Tachino, Asahi Shimbun
Shoko Oda, Bloomberg L.P.

Professional/Journalist Associate Member Emdad H. Sheikh, ATN Bangla Ltd.

Status Change (From Associate to PJA)
Manabu Yokoyama, Notre Dame Seishin University

Associate Members
Clay Kinney, Maiora Asset Management
Jon Salyards, Savills Japan
Terue Kitazawa, Gurunavi, Inc.
Shunso Kagei, Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
Masahiko Kasuga, Japan Green Stamp Co., Ltd.
Hiroshi Ohoka, The Ohoka Memorial Foundation Yasuyo Takamatsu, Tsukushi Club Tetsuya Taneda, NTT Communications Corporation


No1-2018-01 New Members


Biography of Mr. Junji Tachino,

Junji Tachino is currently assigned as Acting Director of the Editorial Board, who bears responsibility of producing editorials of the Asahi Shimbun on the daily basis. He has worked in the United States with the following titles and terms: Bureau chief of Asahi Shimbun's American General Bureau in Washington DC from June 2009 to March 2013, Bureau chief of New York from September 2007 to May 2009, Diplomatic correspondent in Washington DC from April 1999 to March 2002. He was also based in Cairo, Egypt, from April 2006 to August 2007 as bureau chief of the Middle Eastern & African General Bureau. Junji Tachino's academic history: 1996 MPA, J. F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; 2005 visiting fellow, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


Biography of Ms. Shoko Oda, (Note: no photo by request)

Born in Saitama but raised in the States, I moved to Tokyo 2 years ago to join Bloomberg Tokyo. I work as a reporter for Bloomberg's Social Velocity team -- we're a squad of reporters and editors around the globe that monitor social media for breaking news 24/7.

When I'm not chasing after Tweeters, I'm running the streets of Tokyo, training for my first marathon.


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