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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (147)

Children categories

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.

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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.”


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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.”


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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


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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



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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.


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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.


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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.



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


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.


Noriko Takaku, No affiliation



Join the Film Committee . . .

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. . . on Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 pm for the must-see documentary debut of Miki Dezaki – Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue. Amassing the type of balanced, in-depth reporting that was once the purview of the news media, Dezaki spent several years meeting with a wide-ranging group of experts and eyewitnesses, gathering footage on this most contentious of disputes between Japan and Korea. As the film patiently deconstructs the dominant narratives and uncovers the hidden intentions of both supporters and detractors, it reveals that few are innocent of fanning the flames of outrage – and that few of us understand just why the issue has become so incendiary. Dezaki will join us for the Q&A session after the screening.

(USA, 2018; 122 minutes; in Japanese, English and Korean with Japanese and English subtitles.)
Karen Severns

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Hanif’s birthday

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Celebrating with Hanif were Anthony Rowley, Bob Kirschenbaum,
Mary Corbett, Pio d’Emilia and Pio’s friend Raffaela Cittadini.


FCCJ Members threw a surprise birthday dinner for long-serving star of the Club restaurant, Mohamed Hanif, at Antichi Sapori, an Italian restaurant in Minami Azabu. He was gifted a Marinella necktie – one of the oldest and most exclusive brands of tie in the world, made in Naples, Italy. People from Hollywood stars to Barack Obama possess one of these ties, as now does Hanif (who was made in Pakistan 67 years ago).

In Memoriam - Fumio Matsuo

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FUMIO MATSUO, ONE OF our most distinguished regular members and a veteran Japanese journalist known for his efforts in calling for “true” postwar reconciliation between Japan and the U.S, died of natural causes on Feb. 26 while on a trip to New York state where he was visiting his family. He was 85. 

A native of Tokyo, Matsuo joined Kyodo News in 1956 after graduating from Gakushuin University. He served as Kyodo’s correspondent in New York and Washington D.C. from 1964-69 and as Bangkok bureau chief from 1972-75, where he was president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Bangkok from 1973-74. He returned to Washington as bureau chief from 1981 to mid 1984. He became a member of the FCCJ in 1985. When he retired from Kyodo he was deputy director of the agency’s economic news department. “He was a tough boss,” recalls Shiro Yoneyama, who worked under him at Kyodo. “But his colleagues admired his talent.”

In 2002 at the age of 68, he came out of retirement and returned to journalism, writing articles calling on Japanese and U.S. leaders to pay respective visits to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor in symbolic acts of reconciliation between the former wartime foes. He received the Japan National Press Club Award in 2017 for helping the realization of landmark visits to these historic sites in 2016 by then U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Matsuo was recognized as an expert on U.S. political affairs. His interest in the United States stemmed from experiencing as a nine-year old schoolboy the Doolittle Raid on the Japanese capital and other places on April 18, 1942 following Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. 

In 2004, he published the book, Democracy with a Gun: America and the Policy of Force, which won the 52nd Annual Award of the Japan Essayist Club and was translated into English in 2007. His editorial, “Tokyo Needs its Dresden Moment” in the Wall Street Journal of Aug. 16, 2005, generated significant discussion on both sides of the Pacific on the nature of reconciliation. Other books included The Day President Obama Offers Flowers at Hiroshima in 2009 and The Accommodating History of the U.S.-China Relationship in 2017. 

Although modestly regarding himself as one of the “analog generation,” he established his own home page and developed a blog – “America Watch” – to help get his message of “true reconciliation” across.

At the FCCJ, he was a familiar figure in the Main Bar, where he frequently held court at one of the Correspondents’ Tables.

Kyodo and other sources

Lens craft

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Stage right
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks to the podium before delivering
a speech at the LDP’s annual convention on Feb. 10
by Tomohiro Ohsumi


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A long night
A long-exposure shot from above Minato-ku in Tokyo
by Stirling Elmendorf


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Tasting victory 
Kawasaki Frontale’s Leandro Damiao celebrates his goal against 
Urawa Reds in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup in Saitama on Feb. 16
by Yoshikazu Tsuno

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Online Harrassment

FCCJ Exhibition - Emperor Akihito’s Abdication and the Imperial Family

The Club is very pleased and honored to present this special photography exhibition of the Imperial Family in the same month as Emperor Akihito prepares to retire from official duties, bringing the Heisei Era to a close. 

A law was passed last year to allow Emperor Akihito to retire, the first such abdication in 200 years.

The Heisei era began on Jan. 8, 1989, the day after the death of Emperor Akihito’s father, Hirohito. It will conclude on April 30, 2019. 

To commemorate the Heisei Era, this exhibition focuses on the Imperial couple and their influence on the Japanese people.

The FCCJ has only been able to host this exhibition because of the support of the Associated Press and Nikkei, which provided images from their archives. The FCCJ offers its sincere appreciation for that support. 

Peter Langan

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May 6, 2011, Miyako City, Iwate: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit evacuees in
a gymnasium after the 3/11 earthquake. Photograph by Masayuki Terasawa/Nikkei.


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April 10, 1959: The carriage procession at the Prince and Princess’ wedding. Nikkei photo.


The prince and the chindonya

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Starring with the dance
The crown prince and princess dancing at the Club’s 40th
anniversary celebrations – the day he first witnessed chindonya.


By Geoffrey Tudor


It was a dull, overcast autumn day in Tokyo. The occasional breeze stirred the falling leaves and the only brightness was the vivid yellow of the ginkgo trees outside the Yurakucho Denki Building.

I barely noticed, preoccupied as I was with the Club’s 40th anniversary party set for Nov. 29, just four days away. As event committee chair, I had much on my mind. Bookings had slowed to a halt and it looked that we might be lucky just to break even. At one time, we had pinned our hopes on the crown prince and princess accepting our invitation, hand-delivered in September; two months later, not a word had been heard.
But later that morning, a breathless and excited Jurek Martin, Financial Times bureau chief and FCCJ president, phoned me. “We’re wanted at the palace,” he said. “Now.”

So off we went with Nobuyoshi Yamada, then the Club’s administration, liaison and protocol chief, not to the Imperial Palace but to the Crown Prince Department of the Kunaicho, the Imperial Household Agency, to discuss the invitation. They had decided that the couple would attend.
Elated, we set about revising some of the details, so as to appropriately accommodate our royal guests. This meant coordination with the Kunaicho, the police and the Capitol Tokyu Hotel, where the event was to be held. We explained about the participants, including the entertainment – the bands and other performers. Among them were a troupe of English speaking Noh actors and a group of chindonya, the elaborately dressed downtown street musicians who are hired to make a racket outside a new noodle shop, for example, to attract custom. I had thought that these onomatopoeically named musicians would be just the ticket to promote the sales of raffle tickets on the night of the gala.

News that Their Imperial Highnesses would attend spread fast, followed by a rush of late bookings. What had looked like a possible loss-maker suddenly appeared to be heading into the black. Even Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who had earlier declined our invitation, suddenly found his diary had a 10-minute slot enabling him to drop in for a drink to toast the Club’s anniversary.

Then, out of the blue, one of the Club’s senior Members called me, advising me to pull the chindonya from the event. There were some elements in Japanese society who would not take kindly to their low-brow presence, he said, and it would be better “to avoid any unpleasantness.” Such a “common, blue-collar pleasing street performance could be taken as an insult to the royal couple,” he said.

What to do? I consulted Ryozo (Smiley) Matsuoka, our indefatigable F&B manager and an expert in diplomacy at the time. We called the Kunaicho to seek their advice. “It’s your party,” we were told. “We are the guests.” That seemed clear enough, so we gave the green light to the chindonya.


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Make some noise
Chindonya are still employed to drum up business.


The musicians performed as intended throughout the dinner, with their chins chinning and dons donging as they were supposed to. The only complaint we received was from an unhappy attendee who thought the raffle tickets were too expensive.

During the desserts and coffee, Club president Jurek’s wife, Kathleen, came from the head table with a request that the crown prince wanted to speak with me. With butterflies in my stomach I went to meet His Imperial Highness, who quickly put me at my ease with a slight bow and a big, warm smile.

“I understand you made the arrangements for this party,” he said.
“No, no.” I said, “There was a committee . . . many were involved.”
“I meant arranging the chin-donya,” said the crown prince.
“That is true,” I said. “I wanted to sell raffle tickets and thought they would attract sales.”
“Thank you Mr. Tudor,” said the prince. “This is the first time I have ever seen chindonya in action. Thank you very much.”
He was charm itself, and his English was flawless.

He asked what I did at Japan Airlines, where I was a member of the public relations department looking after international media relations, and I gave a brief description of my labors.
“I guess you could say I am a white-collar chindonya,” I feebly joked. The Prince smiled, as if he understood.

Whatever else happened that night was soon a blur. The party was a huge success, thanks to the Imperial couple, who were photographed for the first time dancing together. The media coverage was enormous. The AP photo of the happy couple (opposite) hangs over the stairs to the library in the new Club.
That night’s brief conversation remains one of my most treasured memories. To this day, I feel immensely proud of my time as the humble purveyor of chindonya to the man who would become the Heisei Emperor. ❶

Geoffrey Tudor covers aviation for several publications and is North Asia Correspondent for Orient Aviation magazine.



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