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Number 1 Shimbun

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2020

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2020 (88)

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In Memoriam – Stefano Carrer

(See June edition for obituary. These are later tributes from friends)

 

Stefano Carrer was the rare foreign correspondent in Japan who covered the country, but also took Japan deep into his heart. He did not simply cover Japan for his readers and audience, but presented the country with a love for the place and people, and Japan became his second home. His loss is great for his family and friends, and for those over the years with whom he shared his words and insights about the country. We would like to share some memories.

He traveled throughout Japan, often in the company of fellow journalists from other countries. Starting as a pen reporter in his early days in Japan, Stefano gradually moved to video for Il Sole 24 Ore. This was a transition that not everyone could do, but he managed it in a short period of time. Newspaper reporters now are asked by editorial bureaus to handle video, and many still feel uneasy handling video cameras. However, Stefano was quick to learn, and simply flooded his editorial office with video reports from Japan on issues, ranging from cos-play to Yasukuni visits. During his decade-long tenure in Japan, Stefano also cov- ered every important story in the country. He later returned to the country to cover significant events after he was reassigned to his editorial office in Milan. I met him for the last time in Osaka for a G-20 summit. He was also the only foreign correspondent who had accompanied the now Emeritus Heisei Emperor on his last official visit to Vietnam and Thailand.

At the FCCJ, his warm presence was reassuring to friends and acquaintances. He talked about matters from his personal experience that were rich and colorful. This is what made him an eternal traveler willing to take any hardship for the sake of news coverage. I remember how eager he was to visit the border areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar to cover the Rohingya ref- ugee crisis in 2017, although he couldn’t go due to bureaucratic restrictions on both sides of the border.

Stefano was a true representative of media in the changing news world — always true to his convictions. His small video camera was with him wherever he went. I fondly remember that on some press tours he humbly requested me to hold the camera and record while he would continue narrating.

Stefano was not only a fellow journalist in Tokyo, but a pleasant companion with whom I’ve travelled around Japan. I remember during a press tour to Hokkaido that I joined him in a rafting competition. Neither of us were master rafters, and Stefano told me a story about always ending up on the losing side when someone joins an Italian. In death you don’t disap- pear, Stefano! Your dedication, professional integrity and warm smiling presence will never be forgotten.

Monzurul Huq

 

I ran into Stefano on a Milan street just after he moved back from Tokyo. Life in Milan wasn’t as exciting for Stefano, although he was busy and occasionally got away for short business trips. In Italy, he looked for every chance to stay in touch with Japan, such as Japan festivals, the Japan-Italy Business Group convention, the Far East Film Festival, and the Uniqlo Milan opening. If an event had anything to do with Japan, Stefano was there. He told me that he couldn’t decide whether to join a gym or buy a car because he tried to postpone any decision that could tie him to the city. He was always ready to leave for Japan.

He took advantage of his Milanese salary-man status and looked after his parents, his niece Cristina, and often spent weekends at a second house in the countryside of Lombardy. He loved to go for walks in the mountains, resting at a local hot spring, and drinking his favorite Nebbiolo red wine. He was pas- sionate about opera and we went to the Scala theatre in Milan. He invited me to the ballet as well and I gave him a cherry tree that had become too tall for my terrace in return. He took it to his parents’ house and his father planted it in their garden. He told me to visit to see how tall it had become.

Italian ambassador Giorgio Starace said: “I met him here in Japan, and he impressed me with his high professionalism and humility... He was a great man, and it’s a great loss for all of us.” Indeed, Stefano was a generous, unpretentious intellectual whose stories inspired us, and his memory we shall keep always.

Nanako Yamamori

In Memoriam – Hal Foster

We regret to inform members of the passing away of Hal Foster, a longtime journalist and journalism professor with nine years of experience in Japan. He was 75.

The Miami native worked at for Stars and Stripes Pacific in Tokyo from 1979-86 as a news editor and executive editor.

He later was assistant managing editor at the Asahi Evening News in Tokyo, a business writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times and a special correspondent for USA Today covering the war in Ukraine. Over the years he was both a regular and professional associate member of the Club.

He was a media professor at the University of Idaho and died of a heart attack at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on June 10th.

Foster is survived by his children Angela, 48, and Dan, 47, and two grandchildren.

Dear colleagues at the FCCJ, Especially the veterans among us

09-8

Svend Nyboe Andersen

 

During the “corona break”, I was kindly asked to research and write a short biography about my late predecessor as Tokyo Correspondent for Danish media, Mr. Svend Nyboe Andersen. The request came from his daughter, who is one of my good old friends. Now the worst corona paralysis seems to be over, but I am of course finishing the work. This kind of detective work into the past fascinates me. The book will be published early next year in Danish.

“Svend Andersen”, as he was known at the club, was a very active member from 1965 until 1967 and again from 1971 until 1977. He chaired several committees and was a member of the board once, after having been a candidate several times. He spent innumerable evenings and nights at the workroom, orga- nized chess tournaments and art exhibitions and put his mark on club life in many ways. If any of you have memories, good or bad, about anecdotes, episodes and achievements during Svend Andersen’s time at the club, I would be grateful to hear from you.

My email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ASGER ROJLE CHRISTENSEN
(Long-term regular member of the FCCJ from Denmark, six years from 1989 until 1995, and again the last six and a half years)

 

Join the Film Committee

09-7

 

On Wednesday, July 15 at 7:00 pm for a sneak preview of “Kushina, what will you be,” our first screening of a female-directed, female-centric film in more than a year. Moët Hayami’s enigmatic first feature imagines a beautiful, beguiling world, hidden deep in the mountains of Japan, where women have created a colony without men, living off the land and cultivating cannabis to trade for the necessities they can’t grow. When an anthropologist appears one day with a male guide, after searching for this matriarchal utopia for years, she unwittingly alters their lives forever. Hayami and two of the film’s stars, Yayoi Inamoto and Miyuki Ono, will be on hand for the Q&A session. (Japan, 2018; 70 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles) — Karen Severns

New in the Library

09-3

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
David Quammen
W.W. Norton & Company

 

09-4

The Japanese Discovery of Chinese Fiction: The Water Margin and the Making of a National Canon
William C. Hedberg
Columbia University Press

 

09-5

Urban Migrants in Rural Japan: Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society
Susanne Klien
State University of New York Press
Gift from Susanne Klien

 

09-6
Empera Fairu: Tenno sandai no joho senso
エンペラー・ファイル:天 皇三代の情報戦争
Eiichiro Tokumoto
Bungeishunju
Gift from Eiichiro Tokumoto

New Members

09-1

SHIGENORI KANEHIRA

(REGULAR MEMBER)

Is an anchor of the investigative news program “Hodo Tokushu” (Weekly News Special) of TBS. He has been working for TBS for more than 43 years. As a TV journalist, he has covered many
stories, including the collapse of the Soviet Union while he was Moscow Bureau chief (1991-1994), the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars as the Washington D.C. Bureau chief (2002-2005), the end of the Cold War (1989-1991), North Korea issues (1999-present) and so on. He loves being a TV journalist. He says the longer he does this work, the more convinced he becomes that it is a vital public service because, despite the changing media landscape, the journalist’s role is to provide factual eyewitness accounts. He thinks that’s especially true amid today’s armchair blogosphere-cum-journalism.
He was born in 1953, at Asahikawa City, Hokkaido.

 

09-2

HARUKA NUGA

(REGULAR MEMBER)

Is a Tokyo-based video journalist for the Associated Press (AP). Her main area of coverage is Japan, covering stories from natural disasters to unique cultural happenings. Before joining
the AP, she was a TV news producer at Reuters,
creating video content as a camerawoman and an on-air reporter. Haruka started off her journalism career with Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong, which is also where she grew up. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Psychology.



ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

Masayoshi J.J. Akimoto, Welsten K.K.
Takao Fukami, Izumi Kasei Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Yoshitaka Izumi, Izumi Kasei Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Yuki Izumi, Izumi Kasei Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Hiroyuki Nakagawa, SMBC Trust Bank
Hiroyuki Nakatani, Spring Field Co., Ltd.
Kenshi Suzuki, Lex Institute / Hippo Family Club
Kentaro Tomita, D.I.System Co., Ltd.



REINSTATEMENT (ASSOCIATE)

Takashi Tomita, No affiliation

Lens Craft

10-1

Yoshikazu Tsuno
Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s acrobatic team, Blue Impulse,
fly over Tokyo Skytree in a salute to medical workers during
the height of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Friday, May 26, 2020.

  

10-2

Rodrigo Reyes Marin
Demonstrators wearing face masks protest against racism and violence by police
during a Black Lives Matter rally through Tokyo’s Shibuya district, Sunday, June 14, 2020.

  

10-3

Masatoshi Okauchi
Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge is lit like a rainbow after
the state of emergency was lifted, Monday, May 25, 2020.

Profile; Meri Joyce

08-1

 

By DAVID McNEILL

 

As Kumiko Torikai, a doyen of Japanese interpreters like air – nobody notices it until it is polluted. On the few times interpreters stand out it is usually when they make a mistake. Meri Joyce can be said to have thus quietly and assiduously toiled at the FCCJ for years, her seamless bilingual skills under- pinning countless major press conferences. As any interpreter will tell you, however, behind that seemingly effortless surface is a lot of effort.

The building blocks of Joyce’s Japanese were laid in the small town of Hakushu in the Japan Alps. As a teenage exchange student there in the late 1990s, the Melbourne native had to adapt quickly. First to go was her image of Japan as a uniformly high-tech society. “The only computer in school was in the principal's office and he never turned it on,” she recalls. Five English books sat on the shelves of the library, where she was banished during English lessons to save the teacher’s blushes. Children ran from her on the street.

“It was challenging,” says Joyce, smiling, during a recent interview on Zoom. But she was also lucky enough to find what she calls a “very welcoming” homestay family for the duration of her one-year exchange in Yamanashi. She is still close to them. “Within that insulated community it was not exactly warm but familiar. It was also part of what I was looking for. And because it was so isolated it was a good place to learn Japanese.”

Like many FCCJ luminaries, happenstance paid a part in her journey to Japan. She had won a scholarship to Indonesia but the fall of the country’s leader, Suharto, in May 1998, and the subsequent violent unrest put paid to that. Joyce doesn’t know why she took to Japanese life so easily. She had spent the first three years of her life here (her Australian father’s job took him to Tokyo), and though she remembers almost nothing about it, perhaps the roots were planted then. In any case, at Melbourne University two years later, she opted for a Japanese component in her politics degree, spending a year in Kyoto (2002-3) where she says she conquered the language.

She stumbled into her profession, beginning as a student when she interpreted for, among others, hibakusha survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasa-ki. “Seeing how language and words could be a bridge between different issues was very powerful,” she says. In 2005, she joined Peace Boat, the Japan-based NGO. Her first three-month voyage as a volunteer interpreter was, in her words “right in at the deep end” – travelling to about 20 different countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, interpreting daily for Japanese experts on board and local visitors who came to talk.

Political activism is the other side – perhaps the most important side – of her life. She still works with Peace Boat and spends half her life outside Japan, much of it campaigning against nuclear weapons or for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, a network of civil society organizations. Her activism began inhighschool.“It was during a period in Australia when there were huge protests around the uranium mining (much of the uranium was exported to Japan). It was also the time of Seattle and the (anti-globalization) WTO protests.” Her stay in Kyoto University coincided with the U.S.-led war in Iraq, when debates about Japanese involvement raged in student dorms.

 

08-2

Interpreter Meri Joyce takes notes during a press conference by Lee Young-Chae, professor at Keisen University and Rui Matsukawa, member of the House of Councillors Liberal Democratic Party, who are speaking about possible solutions to Japan-South Korea tensions, Wednesday, July 24, 2019.


It was through interpreting press events for nuclear-related NGOs after the Fukushima nuclear accident that Joyce came to the attention of the FCCJ. She found the club a good fit: her activism had given her the skills to interpret social issues, in an industry where the bread and butter work is on the corporate conference circuit. “I’m never going to be a completely bilingual person but being involved in the social and political side of what’s going on in Japan gives me a cultural context that I might otherwise lack.”

She does up to six events a month at the FCCJ. “Its like a sport - you have to do it often and stay agile.” A natural news junkie, she skim-reads all the main daily Japanese newspapers to keep on top of what’s going on. “It is a very heavy responsibility,” she accepts. “Your choice of language expressions, getting the accuracy of what they’re saying; the tone and the message. I do take it very seriously,” she says, especially when it’s an “ongoing” legal or political issue. “There are dozens of hours of preparation that go into a one-hour presser,” making sure she can cope with the gig by knowing as much as she can about the speaker.

One way of making the job easier is to build a rap- port with the speaker - difficult when most arrive a few minutes before they take the FCCJ stage. “The technical terms are easy to prepare for but knowing the nuances is the hardest thing.” As for politics, she has learned to roll with the punches. “You will be interpreting for people right across the political spectrum and often you will have to say things you would not say yourself – including using discriminatory language. It is even more important that you be accurate and professional because if you water down what they say it is not going to accurately portray what they say. That took a lot of training.”

Among her FCCJ highlights was interpreting for the lawyers of Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s disgraced boss, and trying to explain the nuances of “sontaku” during a press event for Yasunori Kagoike, the president of an ultra-na- tionalist school at the center of a political scandal involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. And who could forget meeting Pikotaro, the extravagantly bedecked surrealist crooner who scored an unlikely global hit in 2016 with Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen. “I still have children of friends who come up to me about that.”


DAVID McNEILL is co-chair of the FCCJ’s Professional Activities Committee and a professor at the Department of English Language, Communication and Cultures at Sacred Heart University in Tokyo. He was previously a correspondent for The Independent and The Economist newspapers and for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Pingpong Diplomacy – 50 Years On

07

 

By GREGORY CLARK

 

Frenzy! That is not a word you would normally associate with our sedate Club. But there was a time....

The time was May, 1971, just 50 years ago. The World Table-Tennis championships in Nagoya had just ended. Rumors said Beijing would be inviting all teams present to visit China after the games. In those days invites to China were rare. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was still under way. Its reports of internal chaos and external hostility were intimidating. Foreigners trying to get into China risked much.

But there were also reports that said that the invitations represented some change in Beijing’s policies, that it was finally looking for some kind of opening to the outside world after five years of destructive Cultural Revolution isolation. For those of us who had been looking into China from Tokyo for years, here was a news chance not to be missed. Requests for visas to cover team visits poured into Beijing’s usually unreceptive ears.

Early off the mark, April 9, to receive what they said were ‘laconic replies’ to their visa requests were well-known China watcher, John Roderick of AP (he had met the communist leadership in their caves pre-war and knew them well, he said) and the NBC office here headed by veteran correspondent John Rich (later Club president) with Jack Reynolds, as technical expert. They were told they could only cover the pingpong visit of the U.S. team and nothing else. Even so, we could only watch with envy as they set off. Their daily reports were headline news, culminating in a meeting with Premier Zhou Enlai himself, where he congratulated them for opening the pathway into China.

As Tokyo-based correspondent for The Australian at the time I like every other Australian correspondent in town (all three of us) was on the phone immediately trying to get hold of the Australian team manager, a medical doctor John Jackson from Adelaide, to find out if he too had an invitation. But no invite he said bluntly and that was that. We could only guess at the problem, something to do with Canberra’s virulent anti-Beijing policies at the time maybe. Even so, and as a former China hand who had the language, I did not want the chance to slip away. I invited Jackson to contact me if he came to Tokyo later and, as a result of misunderstandings, he ended up staying in my apartment. There by chance, I discovered he had in fact been invited to Beijing but had been instructed by someone in Canberra not to accept. When Iasked whether he did in fact want to go, and got the answer I wanted, I immediately sent a telegram in his name to the sports authorities in Beijing saying he now wanted to go to China with his team and with one correspondent (you guessed who). The reply was immediate: Come with your team, and the correspondent.

But by then there were only three players left in Japan and they lacked funds. So in exchange for the mini-scoop I was offering to provide, my newspaper promised to pay the team’s fares to China, via Hongkong. And so off we went, first for pingpong games in Guangzhou, then Shanghai — where we were told that another Australian correspondent, a Mr Ssuu.. would be joining us — and on to Beijing. There too we got the headlines we wanted — 'first Australian newsmen into China since 1949’ — and our select meeting with Premier Zhou. Mr Ssuu.. it turned out was the feisty Max Suich of the Fairfax media group who had demanded and finally got a visa after discovering what I had been up to. The only other correspondent allowed in with us was a Vince Matthews of the Melbourne Herald (Melbourne was the base of the one pro-Beijing Communist party in Australia).

Back in Japan the FCCJ organised a special event where we would relate our impressions. Roderick spoke about China as being ‘an innocent world in which the religion called Marxism, Leninism and Mao Tsetung thought remans untarnished’. Reynolds said he was impressed by the ‘intensity of the faces’ as seen through the camera. Suich said how disappointed he was (though at first glance he added). He wondered perceptively how the intellectual strength of the Chinese would survive the damage of the Cultural Revolution. I had to agree. John Rich, the diplomat as ever, said little.

Reynolds summed it up saying that to expect us to be experts on China was like trying to write Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire after covering ten days of the Games in the Colosseum.

Today we realise just how important our visits had been. Zhou, a moderate in the Chinese leadership, had long struggled with the Cultural Revolution hardliners. He had organised what is now called the Pingpong Diplomacy in a desperate effort to outflank them. It worked, and together with another moderate, Deng Xiaoping, had pulled China back from the precipice. It’s nice to think that some of us might have helped.

Back in our home countries the effect was dramatic. The publicity given pingpong diplomacy opened the way for Henry Kissinger and then Richard Nixon to make their policy about-turns over China. Back in Australia the government had been forced to do the same, and may well have lost its 1972 election as a result.

For the Club it was a chance to see itself as the gateway into China. But it immediately stumbled over the problem of membership for Taiwan media people. Not much has happened since.


GREGORY CLARK is a longtime regular member of the FCCJ, a Tokyo correspondent for The Australian and a former diplomat and academic.

The Long-living Economic Legacy of Pandemics and Plagues

06-1

 

By ANTHONY ROWLEY

 

With lockdowns against Covid-19 easing and infection and death rates declining it would be nice to think we can breathe a sigh of relief and begin to put the pandemic behind us. But that may be way too soon when it comes to the economic legacy even assuming no major ‘second wave’ of infections.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has listed the problems that pose a major challenge to the world's biggest economy in the short to medium term, and they are by no means unique to America. Just a few include a potential wave of business failures, continuing high unemployment plus lower wages — and a trade slump.

Other analyses suggest that the legacy of the coronavirus will persist well beyond the medium term, and that it could extend into unexpected areas of the global economy and into the financial system also. It may take one or even two decades — a generation in effect — for the economic stagnation and price declines which have historically been associated with such terrible episodes to abate completely, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.

And, contrary to what many stock markets appear to be anticipating as they leap joyfully back to pre-pandemic highs (even as the pandemic continues to rage), the IMF notes that “the great pandemics of the past millennium have typically been associated with subsequent low returns on assets.”

Quoting a new paper by researchers Jorda, Singh, and Taylor, the IMF focuses on events in the aftermath of 15 large pandemics that each caused over 100,000 deaths in Europe (where data has been recorded to varying degrees) since the Black Death that lasted from 1331 to 1353.

Even if the world is lucky enough to escape from the corona-virus with only a fraction of the deaths caused by past plagues, the impact of the Covid-19 in economic and financial terms could prove to be longer-lasting and more profound even than was the case during those terrible events.

Research on the economic fallout ofCovid-19 has so far focused on short-term impacts, the IMF says. “However, as governments engage in large-scale counter-pandemic fiscal programmes, it is important to understand what the economic landscape will look like in the years and decades to come.”

That landscape “will shape monetary and fiscal policy in ways that are not yet fully understood."

Historical studies have typically focused on single events in one country or region and have traced outcomes a decade at most, the IMF notes. But with major pandemics effects will be felt across economies because the infection is widespread or trade integration propagates the economic shock.

“The rapid and unprecedented collapse of production, trade, and employment may be reversed as the pandemic eases but historical data suggest that long term economic consequences could persist for a generation or more. The toll on economic activity so far is only the beginning of the story,” that IMF warns.

Wars and plagues are often ranked as equally disastrous but as the IMF notes they are very different in terms of economic impact. Wars destroy a country's capital stock but trigger reconstruction once peace returns whereas plagues destroy a nation’s human capital and so no reconstruction boom follows.

What’s more, we can expect the continuation of low or zero (negative even perhaps in some cases) interest rates for the foreseeable future. While that may sound like good news for borrowers it also implies stagnant economic activity as business and household demand recovers only very cautiously.

Analysis shows that the “natural” or neutral rate of interest (the equilibrium level that can keep the economy growing at its potential rate with stable inflation) typically declines for 20 years after a pandemic and then takes a further 20 years to recover its original level. 

 

06-2

Italian Plague doctor in full kit


The IMF describes this as “staggering” and suggests that it “speaks to the large economic effects pandemics have had over the centuries.” The analysis makes use of “newly available data on yields of long-term sovereign debt stretching back to the 14th century.”

The natural rate of interest,” is an important economic barometer, it notes. “As populations become more frugal, the relative supply of savings increases; when the underlying pace of growth wanes, investment becomes less attractive, in both cases the natural rate declines to restore equilibrium.”

Still, the IMF adds.” one piece of good news is that sustained periods of low borrowing costs are associated with higher real (inflation adjusted) wages and create room for governments to finance stimulus measures to counteract economic damage.” They will need all of that room - and maybe more.

 

The Pandemic Progress of the “Grim Reaper” Over Centuries

 

One thing that has made the coronavirus (Covid-19) appear so scary is the sheer amount of publicity it has created. Past epidemics or plagues have been far more terrible in terms of the number of people they killed, owing to inability of societies to respond effectively at the time, the IMF says.

■ The “Black Death” which originated in Asia in 1330 and went on to kill around a third of Europe’s then population or some 75 million people (according to data compiled by Wikipedia from various sources) makes the coronavirus (some 430,000 deaths as of mid June) look relatively benign so far.

■ And the “Spanish Flu” in 1918 in turn outstripped the Black Death as a killer disease, causing some 100 million deaths. None of the other 13 big pandemics noted by these sources comes anywhere near to matching the grim record of the Great Plague and the Spanish Flu.

■ Partly owing to its geographical and cultural isolation over many centuries Japan has suffered relatively less than from plagues than have other nations.

■ The so-called Spanish flu which erupted in 1918 at the end of the First World War and persisted until 1920 is the worst epidemic that Japan has suffered until the present and the death toll was infinitely greater.

■ According to official figures quoted in a Nichibun monograph, “the epidemic which stormed Japan for about half a year from autumn 1918 to spring 1919 affected 21,168,000, leaving more than 257,000 dead.” That compares with some 890 Covid-19 deaths in Japan as of the beginning of June.

■ The Japanese smallpox epidemic during the years 735 to 737 (Tenpyo era epidemic) afflicted much of Japan, killing approximately one third of the population at that time. It had significant social, economic, and religious repercussions throughout the country.

 

ANTHONY ROWLEY is a former president of the FCCJ. He is a co-author of Sustainable Investment — Impact in Asia, published jointly by Asia Asset Management and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

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