Member Login

Member Login

Username
Password *

Number 1 Shimbun

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (98)

Children categories

That’s entertainment!

08-1

 

If the professional activities are the soul of the Club, the entertainment events are its heart. Meet the committee that brings the fun.

 

By Julian Ryall

 

After a long day chasing down leads, cajoling ministry officials to share information or placating a disgruntled editor, a hack really needs to be able to let his or her hair down, says Sandra Mori. And even today, in an era of instant amusement in a city that has countless outlets for relaxation, it is important that the FCCJ continues its tradition of putting on a show, she adds. 

That task falls to the Entertainment Committee, the group behind a surprisingly broad range of events at the FCCJ – from the annual family Christmas party to golf and billiards tournaments, national evenings, celebrations of cities and regions around Japan and the Club’s consistently popular Saturday Night Live events.

“The committee is here purely to satisfy our members,” said Mori, a Club member for more than 40 years. She first arrived in Japan in 1946, when her father was posted to General Douglas MacArthur’s occupation staff. “We are here to entertain and even educate, to provide members with music and culture that they might not otherwise have a chance to experience, such as local varieties of sake that are only available when a prefecture puts on one of its event nights,” she said.

 

MORI FIRST SERVED ON the Entertainment Committee as board liaison in 1999. She presently serves as chair of the five-strong team – “five is a good number because we get things done quicker and better” she confides – that plots members’ amusement for the months to come. She is keen, however, to make sure that credit for the foundations of the committee’s work is apportioned correctly. 

“Much of the good work was done by Glenn Davis, who started the Saturday Night Live program all those years ago. I remember going to dozens of live houses and other venues to check out acts that we wanted to bring to the Club,” she said.

“Saturday Night Live was dear to Glenn. Even after he retired and went back to the US, he keeps calling to ask what is going on and who is coming for the next Saturday Night Live,” she said. Davis remains an adviser to the committee, as does former Club president, Dennis Normile.

“After all the hard work that Glenn had done getting Saturday Night Live up and running, it was Dennis who really put meat on the event, making sure that we were bringing in really good performers and making it what it is today,” Mori adds.

Pressed for a personal favorite in all the years, she pauses. But it’s clear the hesitation is only because there have been so many memorable nights over the years. The night that brought together no fewer than 12 nations from Southern Africa, complete with their cuisine, music and dancing, is one that has stayed with her. So have the Christmas parties with wide-eyed children sitting on Santa’s knee, the benefit event for the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the evenings at which Japan’s legendary ninja got to show off some of their skills. A troupe of attractive dancers who put on a show at a Brazil night some years ago made for an unforgettable experience for everyone who was there, she added.

 

08-2

Entertaining discussion

Members of the committee at the piano in the Main Bar:
left to right, Masayuki Hattori, Akihiko Tanabe,
Suvendrini Kakuchi, Kaori Furuta and (seated) Sandra Mori.
Sandra has been a Club Member for more than 40 years and on the Entertainment Committee for 20.

 

MORI IS A PROUD promoter of the events, pointing to the impressive crowds they regularly draw. “National nights always bring in more than 100 people and sometimes we can get as many as 150. It’s about the same for our city or regional nights,” she said. In February, she even asked for a night-out pass from hospital in good time to be able to attend the Club’s SNL Mardi Gras, with Washboard Chaz and Steve Gardener providing an authentic New Orleans sound. 

It’s obvious Mori has a soft spot for Saturday Night Live, which she describes as the “crown jewels” of the committee’s work – rattling off The Moonshots, Jim Butler, Gardener and jazz performer Harvey Thompson as some of her favorites. “With no cover and no music charge, it is always full,” she said.

The weekly treat is not only a must-attend for music lovers; it has become such a key part of the city’s live performance scene that bands are lining up for a chance to play at the FCCJ, Mori says. “These are bands that perform all around Tokyo and further afield, but they still want to come here for our members,” Mori said. “Right now, every slot is booked up for the rest of this year and nearly all of them only get one evening. They love the ambience, they know they’re going to be performing to a good crowd and that it will be a fun night out for everyone.”

 

MORI REFERS TO KAORI Furuta, who is the Club liaison on the committee, as “Miss Saturday Night Live,” and Furuta seems to embrace the role. “I really enjoy it because I get to see performers I have never heard of before and would not have a chance to see,” she said. “I have realized there is such a wide diversity of music on offer in Tokyo.”

Furuta said working with the committee is relatively straightforward because it operates so smoothly and musicians are booked as much as a year in advance. “We don’t really have to do too much work to get them here,” Furuta added. “They come to us asking to perform.” The new Club location has also helped attract musicians, with some saying that they prefer playing at the new premises, in part because the tiled floor in the new bar is acoustically far superior to the former FCCJ building, where the carpet served to muffle or deaden the sound. 

But leaving the Denki Building location after so many memorable events did result in some mixed emotions. Just before the move, the Entertainment Committee oversaw a “Sayonara Yurakucho” evening, an event that Mori describes as bittersweet. “We turned Saturday Night Live into a sayonara event as it was the very last event to be held there. It just seemed so fitting,” she said. Now, however, it is time to look to the future. ❶

 

Julian Ryall is Japan correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.

Are media companies liable for journalists’ trauma?

07

 

An Australian judge recently ruled that a newspaper has “a duty to take reasonable care against the risk of foreseeable injury, including foreseeable psychiatric injury,” to its staff. Will this push newsrooms to change their health support for journalists?

 

By Matthew Ricketson and Alexandra Wake

 

A landmark ruling by an Australian court is expected to have international consequences for newsrooms, putting media companies on notice they could face large compensation claims if they fail to take care of their journalists who regularly cover traumatic events.

The Victorian County Court accepted the potential for psychological damage on those whose work requires them to report on traumatic events, including violent crimes. The court ruled on Feb. 22 that a journalist for the Melbourne-based newspaper The Age be awarded AU$180,000 (about $127,000 US) for psychological injury suffered during the decade she worked there, from 2003 to 2013.

The journalist, known in court as “YZ” to protect her identity, reported on 32 murders and many more cases as a court reporter. She covered Melbourne’s “gangland wars,” was threatened by one of its notorious figures, and found it increasingly difficult to report on events involving the death of children, such as the case of four-year-old Darcey Freeman, who was thrown by her father from a bridge in 2009.

After complaining that she was “done” with “death and destruction,” the journalist was transferred to the sports desk. But a senior editor later persuaded her, against her wishes, to cover the Supreme Court, where she was exposed to detailed, graphic accounts of horrific crimes, including the trials of Donna Fitchett, Robert Farquharson and Darcey Freeman’s father.

 

THE REPEATED EXPOSURE TO traumatic events had a serious impact on her mental health. YZ took a voluntary redundancy from the newspaper in 2013.

In her court challenge, the journalist alleged that The Age:

  • had no system in place to enable her to deal with the trauma of her work,
  • failed to provide support and training in covering traumatic events, including from qualified peers,
  • did not intervene when she and others complained, and
  • transferred her to court reporting after she had complained of being unable to cope with trauma experienced from previous crime reporting.


The Age contested whether the journalist was actually suffering from post-traumatic stress. It argued that even if a peer-support program had been in place, it would not have made a material difference to the journalist’s experience.

The newspaper also denied it knew or should have known there was a foreseeable risk of psychological injury to its journalists – while simultaneously arguing that the plaintiff knew “by reason of her work she was at high risk of foreseeable injury.”

Judge Chris O’Neill found the journalist’s evidence more compelling than the media company’s, even though the psychological injury she had suffered put her at a disadvantage when being cross-examined in court. 

“This is a historic judgment – the first time in the world, to my knowledge, that a news organisation has been found liable for a reporter’s occupational PTSD,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma in the United States.1

 

THIS WAS NOT THE first time a journalist has sued over occupational PTSD, as Shapiro calls it, but it is the first time one has succeeded.

In 2012, another Australian journalist unsuccessfully sued the same newspaper. In that case, the judge was reluctant to accept either the psychological impact on journalists covering traumatic events or The Age’s tardiness in implementing a trauma-aware newsroom. In contrast, the judge in the YZ case readily accepted both concepts.

Historically, the idea of journalists suing their employers for occupational PTSD was unheard of. Newsroom culture dictated that journalists did whatever was asked of them, including intrusions on grieving relatives. Doing this sort of work was intrinsic to the so-called “school of hard knocks,” part of the initiation process for rookie journalists.

The academic literature shows that newsroom culture has been a key contributor to the problem of journalists feeling unable to express concerns about covering traumatic events for fear of appearing weak and unsuited to the job.

What was alarming in the evidence provided to Judge O’Neill was the extent to which these attitudes still hold sway in contemporary newsrooms. YZ said that as a crime reporter she worked in a “blokey environment” where the implicit message was “toughen up, princess.”

 

THE YZ CASE SHOWS The Age had learned little from its earlier court case about its duty of care to journalists. One of its own witnesses, the editorial training manager, gave evidence of his frustration at being unable to persuade management to implement a suitable training and support program.

The Dart Center has a range of tip sheets on its website for self-care and peer support. But what’s clear from this case is that it’s not just about individual journalists and what they do – it’s about editors and media executives taking action.

One media organization leading the way is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The national broadcaster has had a peer-support program in place for a decade. Such programs are vital, not just for individual journalists, but for democracy and civil society. That’s because, despite the massive changes that have been sweeping through the news industry, there’s been no real change in the number of disasters, crimes, and traumatic events that need to be covered.

News workers need help. And they are beginning to demand it. ❶

 

Matthew Ricketson is a professor of communication at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. Alexandra Wake is a senior lecturer in journalism at RMIT University in Melbourne. This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

1. Disclosure: Matthew Ricketson is chair of the board of directors of the Dart Center Asia Pacific, which is affiliated with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma in the US It’s a volunteer position. During part of the period covered by the YZ court case, he worked as a journalist at The Age. Alexandra Wake also sits on the Dart Center Asia Pacific board, and in 2011 was named a Dart Academic Fellow, which included travel to New York for training at Dart’s expense.

Michio Hayashi, Yomiuri Research Institute

06-1

 

by Gavin Blair

 

“I felt like I was carrying a copy of a universe in miniature,” says Michio Hayashi of the newspapers he delivered on weekends for eight years to save money to travel abroad. As well as allowing him to go overseas after university, delivering 300 copies of the “priceless collection of information from all corners of the world” also sparked his desire to become a foreign correspondent. 

At university in the mid-1980s, he studied news items from around the world, many about the Cold War, with a professor and a group of friends. Following graduation, he studied English in London for three months before joining the Yomiuri Shimbun in 1987. He spent his first four years reporting on local news in Hamamatsu in Shizuoka, “while the Berlin Wall was coming down.” 

During a stint back in Tokyo doing page layout in the evening, he attended French language school in the daytime. “Back then, wannabe foreign correspondents had to learn at least two languages,” says Hayashi, who laments the fact that requirements these days are less stringent. A chance encounter in the school’s smoking room led to his first overseas posting, a temporary, but life-changing, assignment to Afghanistan as the Mujahideen forces were taking over from the Soviet-backed regime. 

Next was a three-and-a half-year posting to the New Delhi bureau, from where he covered seven other South Asian countries, including frequent trips to Afghanistan to cover the ongoing civil war. There he was robbed at gunpoint, came under rocket fire more than once, witnessed limbs being blown off and had a bullet come through the roof of his taxi – incidents he says, “I never told my mother about.” The poverty in Afghanistan and India also had a profound effect on him, driving home the fortune of being born in a rich country.

 

WHILE IN SOUTH ASIA, a one-on-one interview with then Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto produced her first public declaration that her country would respond in kind to Indian nuclear tests. The most shocking story he reported on was the systematic infanticide of female new-borns in Bihar, India, carried out because the dowries necessary for daughters were said to bankrupt families.

Time back in Japan covering the lead up to and the events of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics was followed by an invitation to the US by the State Department, which preceded an assignment to Washington. Expecting to write mostly on politics and economics, he found himself covering the events of 9/11 and the subsequent seismic shifts in America, which he points to as a factor that eventually led to the Trump presidency. “As a Pentagon reporter, I rushed to see the burned part of the building. . . . Standing on a highway in front of the gaping hole, I wept for a while. I did not know why,” he recalls. 

Something else from that day that left a lasting impression on Hayashi was the story of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage sending his Pentagon staff home before he took part in a sweep of the building with sniffer dogs. Despite the heroism seen on that day, Hayashi believes it was the catalyst for the transformation of America from a “very generous country” to “deeply worried, suspicious, angry” though also “united.” 

Hayashi filed around a thousand articles from America in the year after the Twin Towers came down and remembers the “surreal feeling” of writing the first one after that not related to terrorism or national security.

 

HE RETURNED TO JAPAN in 2002 to cover politics, including the prime minister’s office, briefly, the foreign ministry and the then defense agency. Reporting on the base controversies in Okinawa was something of a natural progression given his knowledge of US military issues, he says. After a stretch as an assistant editor on the international desk in Tokyo, he was again posted abroad, this time to Brussels in 2006, from where he covered the EU, NATO and Benelux countries. 

The following year he was made Paris bureau chief, a post he held until returning to Tokyo as deputy editor of international news. In 2011, he took over running the Yomiuri’s operations in Europe as general bureau chief in London, from where he oversaw coverage of the London Olympics and Eurozone crises, including landing a one-on-one with then British Prime Minister David Cameron. 

Back in Japan in 2014, he wrote editorials on international issues before being appointed managing editor of The Japan News, the Yomiuri’s English edition, in 2016. Since 2018, Hayashi has been a senior research fellow at the Yomiuri Research Institute, where he writes long-form, in-depth pieces for the Yomiuri quarterly magazine, as well as some work for other media. 

Hayashi, reflecting back on his career, says, “I feel quite fortunate that my bosses allowed me to follow this path for nearly two decades – five overseas postings for about 15 years combined.”

Despite his accomplishments, Hayashi says he doesn’t consider himself “a true journalist,” a title he reserves for freelancers, award-winning reporters and editors in chief. Nevertheless, his only apparent regrets are having been posted overseas at the time of the Tokyo sarin gas attack, as well as the Kobe and Tohoku earthquakes. 

“I missed all these three major Heisei events,” he says, “so I really feel something is missing in me as a Japanese reporter.” ❶

 

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

The life of Bernie Krisher, journalist and philanthropist

05-1

 

When the former member of the FCCJ passed away in March, he left a legacy of journalistic and charitable achievements that won’t soon be forgotten.


By the
Cambodia Daily

Legendary journalist Bernard Krisher, former bureau chief for Newsweek magazine and member of the FCCJ from 1962 to 2001, passed away on March 5 at a hospital in Tokyo. He was 87. His death from heart failure was disclosed by his family following a private burial in New York.

Krisher, who began his career as a foreign correspondent in Japan, had dedicated his last three decades to humanitarian work in Cambodia.

Krisher was born on Aug. 9, 1931, in Frankfurt, Germany, where his mother had gone to give birth close to her parents. The family lived in Leipzig, where his father, a Jew from Poland, owned a fur shop. They fled Germany in 1937 for the Netherlands and France to escape Nazi persecution, and he attended two years of elementary school in Paris. When the Germans invaded France, Krisher’s family fled to the Spanish border seeking onward transit to Portugal. There, Krisher had a fateful encounter on the street with Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul who issued visas for his family and countless other Jews, against the order of his government.

In 1941, the family emigrated to the US on the vessel Serpa Pinto, known as the “ship of destiny” for its role in transporting European refugees to safety on the other side of the Atlantic. After arriving through Ellis Island and settling in Queens, Krisher began attending New York City public schools despite his lack of English, and eventually graduated from Forest Hills High School. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the city’s Queens College in 1953.

FROM THE TIME HE was a child, Krisher knew that he wanted to be a journalist. When he was 12, he started publishing his own small magazine for teenagers after the magazines he sold as a delivery boy went bankrupt. He filled his magazine, called Pocket Mirror (later Picture Story), which he mimeographed in his Queens apartment, with interviews of celebrities such as Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra and Trygve Lie, the first secretary-general of the United Nations.

He said he learned most of his techniques of journalism during this time. “Persistence, energy, enthusiasm were the key essentials of this profession,” he said, “and the main enemy is cynicism.”

During college, he worked for the New York Herald Tribune as a campus correspondent and copy boy, including at the 1948 and 1952 Democratic National Conventions. He was also an editor at the college student newspaper, The Crown, where, at the height of McCarthyism, he wrote articles critical of the blacklisting of professors branded as communists and being dismissed from their teaching posts. Krisher took heat from the administration. When he didn’t stop writing the articles, the college president tried to have him removed, even writing the editor of the Herald Tribune in an attempt to have him dismissed from his job there, but the paper refused.

Krisher was drafted into the army in 1953 and stationed for two years in Heidelberg, Germany, as a reporter for the European Stars and Stripes.

He joined the New York World-Telegram & Sun in 1955, first as a reporter, then assistant editor.

From 1961-62, he studied at Columbia University on a Ford Foundation fellowship in advanced international reporting, specializing in Japanese studies at the East Asian Institute. In 1962, he left the World-Telegram & Sun and moved to Japan to join Newsweek as a reporter in the magazine’s Tokyo bureau.

 

05-2

A comic book-style feature showing
a teenage Bernard Krisher editing his own magazine in 1947

 

05-3

Emperor Hirohito greets Krisher
before their exclusive interview in September, 1975


HE HAD TRAVELED TO the country four years earlier when he was sent to Asia on a six-week reporting assignment by the New York World-Telegram & Sun newspaper, and met his future wife, Akiko, with whom he was married for 58 years until his death. He attributed the works of Lafcadio Hearn with inspiring his interest in Japan and on his decision to live and work there.

Krisher was promoted to Newsweek’s Tokyo bureau chief in 1967, a position he held for the next 13 years. He interviewed many notable personalities including all Japanese prime ministers and other politicians, business leaders and cultural figures. His most famous interview was a one-on-one exclusive print interview with Emperor Hirohito just before the emperor’s historic visit to the US in 1975. (For the inside story of this reportage, see the article “The Emperor, Newsweek and the ‘Nisei Onassis,’” by Eiichiro Tokumoto in the June, 2014 issue of Number 1 Shimbun.) 

Krisher’s beat included other parts of Asia, and he traveled widely through parts of Southeast Asia and made frequent trips to South Korea. He succeeded in landing the first exclusive interview with Indonesian President Sukarno in 1964, at a time when Western journalists were on the leader’s blacklist. Sukarno also introduced him to Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who invited him to Cambodia.

Sihanouk, however, severed ties with the US in 1965, in part over the US government’s refusal to apologize over an article Krisher wrote for Newsweek. Sihanouk eventually restored diplomatic relations with the US, and the prince and Krisher subsequently formed a close friendship that led to Krisher’s humanitarian work in the country later in life.

Krisher was also supportive of Kim Dae-jung when the South Korean dissident was a political prisoner. He ran interviews and articles critical of the South Korean government in the magazine, and when Kim became president of the country in 1998, he kept his promise made years ago of granting Krisher the first interview.

After Newsweek, Krisher moved to open the Tokyo bureau for Fortune magazine in 1980, remaining its correspondent until 1984. At the same time, he joined a leading Japanese publisher, Shinchosha, as chief editorial advisor and helped start up Focus, a successful news-oriented photo-weekly. He later helped set up the Japanese edition of Wired for another publisher, Dohosha. He was also the Far East representative for the MIT Media Lab.

 

05-4

Krisher pictured with Cambodia Daily editors Gretchen Peters,
Matthew Reed and Barton Biggs in Phnom Penh in the mid-90s

 

05-5

Krisher meets with foster children and orphans supported
by his organization, in Phnom Penh in November 2011


IN 1993, KRISHER LAUNCHED the Cambodia Daily to help establish a free press in Cambodia. It was a time of reconstruction and rehabilitation in the country, following the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement concluding two decades of civil war and Sihanouk’s return from exile and instatement as head of state. It was the country’s first English-language newspaper and was a training ground for Cambodian and expatriate journalists, publishing local and international news to readers in Phnom Penh.

Against the advice of many, including Sihanouk who cautioned him that he might be killed, Krisher started the newspaper believing that a democracy needed a free press and told his staff that a paper should be like a gadfly to keep a check on those in power. The regime’s forced closure of the print edition in September 2017 drew international condemnation.

For Krisher, his crowning achievement was the construction in the mid-1990s of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, which provides free medical care to the poor and ran a telemedicine program in remote villages. He was the founder and chairman of the hospital, which was built on land donated by King Sihanouk.

A rural schools project which he also founded has, to date, built over 560 state schools across every province. While not personally wealthy, Krisher leveraged his rolodex and chutzpah to solicit funds from private donors, and the World and Asian Development banks. Known by many around him as Bernie “Pusher,” he once said, “I remain very New York – quite aggressive, confrontational against authority and establishment.”

Krisher credited the humanitarianism of Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning medical missionary who had built a charity hospital in Africa and whom he met in New York in the 1950s, as his inspiration to embark on his work in Cambodia.

Krisher also made several trips to North Korea in the 1990s to distribute rice and medical supplies to famine victims.

Krisher is survived by his wife, his two children and two grandchildren. ❶

Excerpted with permission from The Cambodia Daily.

My two (foster) sons, three years on

04-1

 

Despite global awareness that children thrive best in family situations (biological, adoptive or foster), Japan’s child welfare system is stuck in an institutional approach.


By Caroline Parsons

Part dance in heaven, part ghastly nightmare. The first part describes my experience as a foster parent (sato-oya) of two Japanese brothers, now aged 15 and 16. For more than ten years, they have come to my house for some weekends and school holidays from the welfare facility where they spend most of their lives. (I wrote of our early life together in the July 2016 issue of this magazine.)

The second part describes my experience with the welfare bureaucracy in my attempts to offer the boys a life in a family home instead of in an institution. Of all the children in state care in Japan, some 85 percent grow up in institutions. The same was true 30 years ago in the UK, where I come from. But today, well over 70 percent of children in the UK are placed with foster families. In Japan, that figure is only 15 percent.

In 2010, soon after I began foster parenting, I was encouraged by the coordinator at the Child Guidance Center, (the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare agency responsible for where children are placed), to consider applying for full foster parent accreditation which requires some extra training and assessments. If I was successful in getting that certificate, the boys could live with me and I could receive adequate financial support to foster them, she explained. 

She knew that it was costing me a lot, and the Volunteer Family category I was in offered only a very small subsidy. But at that time, the boys were still “wild balls of dynamite” – albeit adorable ones – and I was unsure if I was up to having them on top of working full time. I decided to continue with the weekend and holiday scheme.

The coming and going had its challenges, though. One Sunday night stands out: the older boy (then six) sat down in the middle of the road leading to the facility. He was not going back, he screamed, because he was “moving into Parsons-san’s house.” A teacher carried him unceremoniously inside as I walked away in agony. The courageous little one-boy demo left me with an indelible stamp on my heart and a promise to myself to offer the children their own home one day if I could.

 

MEANWHILE THE BOYS ADAPTED to essentially having two homes. Their institution is a “model home,” a small modern unit with teachers who are mostly young, unmarried and childless themselves. Trained in social welfare, they are kind and hard-working, rotating on shifts. The boys like their teachers, but they do not think of them as parents, nor are they encouraged to. 

By 2014 the boys had become much less of a handful and were developing wonderful friendships in our local community which I wanted to encourage. I asked if they still wanted to live in my house if it was possible and the answer was a resounding yes, so I decided to try to make it happen. 

Unfortunately, it turned out that the first coordinator’s advice did not represent the view of the decision-makers at the CGC. Transferring the boys from the institution to their foster parent was simply not their idea of a good idea. They were resolute that there would be no change of policy for my foster sons, who they thought were most stable staying in the institution where they had been placed at two and three years old. I was told I could not apply for accreditation and asked to continue the same schedule. If it was costing me too much, they said, I could simply reduce the number of days the boys visited. In 2016 I again asked them to re-consider and again I was turned down.

“Japan’s overwhelming use of institutions instead of family-based care is failing thousands of vulnerable children by not preparing them for independent, productive lives in society,” claims Human Rights Watch in the report “Without Dreams” on children in alternative care in Japan. These children are being denied a family life and being set up to fail, says the report. 

The issues that impede faster development of the fostering system here are complex. One is the right of the birth mother to refuse permission for her child to go to a foster parent – even if she cannot live with the child herself. Another has been the public’s lack of familiarity with fostering and adoption. Then there is the very complicated close relationship between the CGC and the institutions. 

In the current set up, the CGC, already over-worked and understaffed, is very dependent on the institutions. When emergencies arise – all the time, as that is the nature of child welfare work – the institutions are there to quickly take on rescued children. (It’s an imperfect system and some tragic consequences have been in the public eye recently, but that’s another story.) And the institutions, which need to pay teachers, cooks, cleaners, office and many other staff, are dependent for their own survival on the CGC. 

 

THERE ARE A LOT of groups now working to address these deep and political issues and a breakthrough came in April 2017 when the Child Welfare Act was amended to prioritize family-based care. That has resulted in much more media coverage, which is a positive. But for the ‘New Vision’ of family-based care to really take root, the general public has to become much more familiar with the situation, especially as taxpayers are paying for it. Sato-oya Renrakukai, a foster family group, estimates the total cost of raising a child from birth to 18 in Japan’s institutional set-up to be ¥120 million, four or five times what an average family spends over the same period. 

In 2017 I decided to make one more attempt at accreditation. I hired a lawyer to help me understand the legalities. I found out that anyone has a right to apply, which is then assessed by an outside board of specialists. The lawyer obtained the appropriate forms and as I had already attended foster training sessions and had a good track record as a model foster parent, I was approved and got my certificate in January 2018. I knew the foster parent has no right to choose which children – if any – they are assigned.

Soon after, the boys and I were forbidden from seeing each other for four months while they were interviewed extensively to assess whether they could live with me. But in the end the answer was “No.” I was given the news by a case worker new to our case at a meeting that the head of fostering (who had called the meeting) did not attend. Exhausted, I don’t even remember asking ‘Why?’ When I next saw the boys, the older brother was very upset that his request had been refused; the younger brother had not even been asked his preference.

04-2

SO WE HAVE FINALLY given up our goal of living together in “our home” before they turn 18. The process has become too stressful. Better to look for the positives, I tell myself. The younger brother has recently taken to writing novels online – and seems to be showing amazing promise. He used to love when we visited the FCCJ in Yurakucho for hamburgers on Sundays and I’m delighted he finds writing exciting.

The older brother is very aware that at age 18, he will have to leave the institution for good and make his way into the world. “Can I come and live here when I am 18?” he asks, as we sit in the living room over tea with a neighbor, a great friend to the boys and I. I point out that in two years he may feel differently and have other places he wants to go.

He turns to our friend. “I know children usually want to separate from parents when they are 18,” he tells her. “But I just want to go home.” ❶

Caroline Parsons has lived in Japan for 38 years, working as a photographer, reporter, writer and narrator.

From the Archives - Master of mime

03

 

Laughter reigned during the professional luncheon for world-famous French actor and mime artist Marcel Marceau at the Club on Oct. 30, 1986. Seated to his left is then Club President Bruce MacDonell (Globe Net), and to his right is Richard Pyle (AP), both mirthfully enjoying his presentation. Since his appearance at the Club, a photo of Marceau, holding fingers to lips in a call for silence, has occupied a conspicuous place in our library.

 

Born in Strasbourg, France, into a Jewish family as Marcel Mangel on March 22, 1923, Marcel Marceau took on the name he was to later make famous in order to evade the Nazi occupiers during WWII. He and his brother, Alain, who also took on the Marceau name, then joined the French Resistance and assisted Jewish children to escape into Switzerland. Fluent in French, English, and German, he joined the French army after the liberation of Paris and served as a liaison officer with the US army.

Soon after, under the early influence of a Charlie Chaplin film, Marceau took up the study of dramatic acting and mime in Paris. Early success in a pantomime role was followed by his creation of “The Overcoat,” a “mimodrama” presented in his silent style of dramatic action that brought major acclaim. In 1947 he more firmly established his reputation with “Bip the Clown,” a character drawn in part from Chaplin’s “Little Tramp,” and later founded the world’s only pantomime company. His extensive and numerous tours, especially across the US during the 1950s, further solidified his international popularity. He also appeared in several successful films.

Marceau’s achievements ranged from establishing a school in Paris to teach his so-called “art of silence” to creating a foundation in New York to promote this art form. He was the recipient of numerous French awards and a US Emmy. He was also declared a National Treasure here in Japan, where Noh drama was one of many early influences on his work. Returning the favor, he later had some influence on Japan’s evolving art of butoh. He was an inspiration to Michael Jackson, too, who based his “moonwalk” on Marceau’s movements, as well as to countless young performers in many countries.

After an illustrious career as a master of mime, Marcel Marceau died in Paris at the age of 84 on Sept. 22, 2007.

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

Freedom of the Press news - Under watch: Reporting in China’s surveillance state

02

 

THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB OF CHINA (FCCC), based in Beijing, recently surveyed foreign journalist members to assess how their reporting was being affected by state-electronic and human surveillance in the People’s Republic of China. The survey was conducted in December, and 109 of the 204 correspondent members responded.

According to the FCCC, the survey, released on Jan. 29 of this year, “painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions inside China in recent memory. Rapidly expanding surveillance and widespread government interference against reporting in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang drove a significant deterioration in the work environment for foreign journalists in China in 2018.”

Some highlights of the survey:

  • Nearly half of the correspondents directly experienced human surveillance, being followed or having their hotel room entered
  • 22 percent of respondents said they were aware of authorities having tracked them using public surveillance systems
  • 50 percent of respondents said surveillance impacted their reporting

The expanding scope of surveillance means journalists have been subject to intimidation in their personal lives, and made unable to contact sources or even report at all in some regions. Following are some of their experiences.

Multiple phone calls were cut off while discussing politically sensitive subjects.
Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal

Police officers told me they knew about a social event I was organizing that I had privately invited friends to using WeChat.
Yuan Yang, Financial Times

WeChat messages sometimes mysteriously disappeared from my phone while sharing politically sensitive information with my colleagues via a group chat.
Tomoyuki Tachikawa, Kyodo News

We (a TV crew of three) traveled to Wen’an, Hebei for a story on plastic recycling. Within about half an hour, a local official along with a couple of bao’an security officers and several other men in plainclothes drove up and met us. The official told us they’d been looking all over the small town for us and found us because of the surveillance cameras. They escorted us to the county line to ensure we left.
Bill Birtles, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Most of my trips to the field revolve completely around how to get as much as we can before we are likely stopped or detained, with a lot of strategizing about easier, less sensitive stories that could be done first so as not to come back completely empty-handed. On a trip to Ningxia, I aborted a story entirely out of fear that I had been compromised and would get anyone I subsequently interacted with in trouble.
Becky Davis, Agence France-Presse

In Xinjiang, in a lot of situations, I didn’t even try to conduct an interview, because we didn’t want to get anyone in danger. And when every corner is monitored, you do bring danger to your sources.
Axel Dorloff, ARD German Radio

I was followed and tracked for nearly 1,600 kilometers by at least nine cars and 20 people – most of whom refused to identify themselves or their organizations. I was also threatened with arrest, and had armed police approach my vehicle with shields raised and told to put my hands outside the car. I was detained numerous times. A police officer seized my camera and deleted pictures without my consent.
Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe and Mail

I’ve come into the office several times while dealing with a sensitive story and my computer hasn’t started up. One of my reporters had computer issues while covering the trial of a human rights lawyer. As a security measure, we recently decided to reimage every computer in the bureau.
• Bureau chief of a US news organization

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China is a Beijing-based professional organization comprising more than 200 correspondents from over 30 countries and regions.

Keepers of the books

Jorge Luis Borges wrote that he “always thought that paradise will be a kind of library.” This month we focus on the committee in charge of the lofty kingdom upstairs.

 08 1

Members of the committee in the library – Christoph Neidhart,
committee co-chair Koichi Ishiyama, Bobbie van der List and Todd Crowell.

 

By Julian Ryall

 

More tech upgrades, more elbow room, more attractive surroundings and access to more books, newspapers and periodicals than ever before. The Library, Archives and Workroom Committee has traditionally provided the tools to enable working journalists to go about their jobs, and the present 10-strong committee is busy enhancing the facilities and services in the FCCJ’s new premises.

The “brains and memory” of the Club, the library subscribes to 10 foreign and 15 Japanese-language newspapers, as well as 50 magazines, including Time, The Economist and Der Spiegel. It can access information from a number of databases, including those of Kyodo News, Reuters and the Factiva service, and has a comprehensive clipping archive that dates back to the 1950s.

The library staff are skilled in fulfilling Members’ requests for assistance in their research – a service that one journalist has described as “achieving the impossible in an infeasible amount of time” – while a collection of 300 rare books is the envy of many other institutions. Those titles include Lafcadio Hearn’s Fantastics and Other Fancies, from 1914, and the 1880 work, The Classical Poetry of the Japanese, by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

The library has approximately 11,000 books on its shelves, as well as more than 1,200 DVDs, with more being added regularly.

“I think we have a very good library service, with more space now than in the old location,” said Suvendrini Kakuchi, co-chair of the committee and correspondent for University World News. “It’s really important that we have these services as it’s one of the primary reasons that a journalist will join the FCCJ.”

 

08 2

 

Talking books: Discussing with Head Librarian Hiroko Moriwaki.

 


GIVEN THE LIBRARY’S ROLE as a focal point of the Club, the committee has no plans to rest on its laurels, with digitization a key element of the upgrades. A database of all books is available through all the public computers in the library, enabling Members to search for a specific title, while an e-book library was introduced this past January. Further enhancements are under way, including providing access to online academic journals and the digitization of newspaper clippings.

The committee typically meets once a month – although meetings are suspended during August, when many people are away, and in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays – to discuss the purchase of new books and magazines and any issues that have been raised by Members.

One of the committee’s primary responsibilities is to deliver a monthly Book Break event, with an author presenting his or her latest work and then taking part in a discussion with Members. “We discuss possible speakers at our monthly meetings and generally try to get authors of books about Japan or at least about East Asia. It varies from politics through economics, cultural issues, history, international relations and even some non-fiction books,” said Koichi Ishiyama, the other committee co-chair.

“To make an event viable for the Club, we need 15 people to attend and it is rare that we don’t get that many people, with 30 guests about the average,” Ishiyama said. The late Japanologist Dr. Donald Keene attracted nearly 90 guests when he spoke at the Club around four years ago, while ninjutsu master Masaaki Hatsumi brought in 127 for “Dojo Giga Heaven.”

 

08 3

Co-chair Suvendrini Kakuchi.


OTHER EVENTS THAT HAVE proved particularly successful have been tie-ins with the publication of books, such as the memorable evening events dedicated to ninjas and practitioners of traditional Japanese tattoo artistry.

“We often get too many proposals, or a book might be too similar to something that we had relatively recently,” said Ishiyama. “But Book Break events are really important to the Club because they generate revenue and raise our profile. The Tokyo American Club and the Mori Hills Club, both of which have lending libraries for their members, don’t have anything similar. Since they are effectively our rivals, these events give us something unique and can attract new members to the FCCJ.”

Ishiyama says he considers being a member of the committee something of a perk when it comes to meeting famous authors who are releasing new and interesting books. “These are people that I’d probably never otherwise get a chance to meet,” he said. “They are really smart, they’re incredibly interesting to talk with and they’ve just written books that a lot of people want to read. I’m lucky to be able to speak with them.”

Members donate around 15 books to the library every month, while the committee approves the purchase of at least five new titles each time they meet. On occasion, when the selection is of a particularly high standard, that list expands to 10 books.

A good portion of the rest of the committee’s time is spent dealing with queries and complaints from users of the facilities, or issues that crop up – anything from a mug of coffee being spilled into one of the communal computers to articles being torn out of the shared newspapers or someone not being quite as considerate towards others as they should. Ishiyama shrugs: “It happens, and we have to deal with it.”


THERE HAVE BEEN A number of minor glitches in the library and correspondents’ work room that only became apparent after the move was completed, Ishiyama says, but are being ironed out. The layout of the space has been tweaked as it became apparent where improvements could be made, while other enhancements – such as better lighting in the area set aside for easy chairs and shared computer terminals – are being planned.

By and large, Club Members who use the space and staff who work there are extremely happy with facilities that are approximately 20 percent larger than the library in the Club’s former premises and far more stylish and up-to-date. What pleases Ishiyama and the committee most of all, however, is the sudden end to the disappearance of the library’s books and periodicals. 

“In the old library, we were losing around 200 books every year,” he said. “The stacks were open and anyone could go in, so people would take books and not always return them. That meant that we had to use our budget to replace those books every year.” The layout of the new book cases, and the need for anyone who wants to rummage through the selection to check in with the librarian first, appears to have remedied that problem, Ishiyama said.

Hiroko Moriwaki, who has served as the head librarian for six years, says the new database makes locating books easier, and the “more spacious and modern” library space makes her job more enjoyable. “Everyone who comes here to work likes the new facilities,” she said. “I think all the members of the committee are working very hard for the rest of the Club.

“It’s just a nice place to work.” ❶


Julian Ryall is Japan correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.

New in the library

 

The Bluestockings of Japan: New Woman Essays and Fiction from Seitō, 1911-16
Jan Bardsley
Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan

 

Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan
Gill Steel (ed.)
University of Michigan Press

 

Ethical Capitalism : Shibusawa Eiichi and Business Leadership in Global Perspective
Patrick Fridenson and Kikkawa Takeo (ed.)
University of Toronto Press
Gift from Masahide Shibusawa

 

15 1

The Unmaking of an American : a Memoir of Life in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia
Roger Pulvers
Balestier Press
Gift from Roger Pulvers

 

New Members

REGULAR MEMBERS

 

14 1

SAGUSTIN DE GRACIA is the Tokyo bureau chief for Agencia EFE, the Spanish news agency. He arrived in July, 2018, after four years as New York bureau chief covering Wall St. and the UN. He began his career on the news desk in 1979 – a position that has been followed with stints around the globe, from North America (Mexico, U.S.), Central America (El Salvador, Panama) and South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay), to Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

 

14 2

KATHRIN ERDMANN is the East Asia correspondent for ARD German Radio, part of the largest broadcasting network in Europe. Born in Berlin, she studied Political Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin, followed by “Volontariat” – a journalist apprenticeship. After working for an internet magazine, a public news radio station in Berlin and for Euronews in Lyon, in 2005 she moved to Hamburg to NDR. She won the “Deutschen Radiopreis” for one of her reports in 2011.

 

14 3

YASUHIKO HORI is the general manager and chief foreign news editor for TV Tokyo Corporation. He graduated with a B.A. from the California State University, Hayward in 1984 and joined TV Tokyo the next year. His 30 years as a TV journalist has included 3 years as the New York bureau chief, and experience producing special programs featuring the popular journalist/commentator Akira Ikegami. He took on his present role at the company in 2018.

 


PROFESSIONAL/JOURNALIST ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

Takao Nagatake, Chunichi Shimbun
Kenichi Sakuma, Makino Publishing
Co., Ltd.


ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

Goya Furukawa, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Shinichi Fukuoka, Real Estate Research Institute, Inc.
Ichiro Ishikawa, K And Blue Co., Ltd.
Satoshi Ihara, Sun Realty & Insurance Corporation
Masatoshi Kato, Nikka Shoko Co., Ltd.
Makoto Miyauchi, Toin Hospital
Yoko Niwa, Real Estate Research Institute, Inc.
Munenori Ogata, MUFG Bank, Ltd.
Tomohiro Omoda, Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd.
Yohei Suzuki, Shihodo Gallery
Yasuhiro Tamai, K And Blue Co., Ltd.
Yoshinao Takashima, Tokyo Maine & Nichido Fire Insurance
Ichiro Yonahara, Japan Steels International Co., Ltd.


REINSTATEMENT (ASSOCIATE)

Noriko Takaku, No affiliation

 

 

Page 4 of 7

Categories

Tags

Go to top