Dear members,

I offer you my warmest greeting as we enter another chilly month and try to negotiate our way through the ongoing Omicron pandemic. The Club is better prepared for the virus than it was this time last year. As president, I’m determined to face the latest outbreak in as positive a way as possible. The pandemic has taught us many lessons - one of the most important is the ability to deal with the challenges the Club faces in a calm manner. Decisions on the early closure of our services will continue to be based on constant monitoring of the situation, informed by official guidance the views of staff. There is no need to panic. Our goal during this difficult time is to wait patiently and minimize pandemic-related losses. Please bear with us, and be reassured that we are working hard to emerge into the light at the other end of the tunnel with as little disruption to our members as possible.

I hope more members have had a chance to say hello to our new general manager, Toru Morishima. He has been at the Club for just a couple of months, so chatting to members will help him get to know us all much better. Toru-san, as he likes us to call him, is eager to become an active member of the FCCJ family. He is learning that the Club is a place where individuality is celebrated and the ambitious and innovative have the freedom to try out new ideas. Let’s all give the new GM our support.

As you know, the planned welcome party for new members has been postponed. But it will be held very soon, as will other events that have been affected by the virus outbreak. We are also planning to introduce new menus in the main bar in March, if not sooner.

Whenever I watch the news about the pandemic, I find myself valuing the FCCJ even more. This is why we have kept the Club functioning, even when fewer people are using its services. We promised to keep journalism events, the library, and entertainment open to members, and that is what we have done. Although just nine people signed up for the most recent Book Break, by Professor Yuqing Xing, the management decided to go ahead with the event. I am delighted they did … after a lively debate about China we moved to the bar and didn’t leave until its (early) closing time. 

This is what the FCCJ is all about. We are doing our utmost to bring excitement back to the Club as soon as infection numbers allow and our members feel able to fully embrace the spirit of the FCCJ, hopefully in time for spring.

In the meantime, please keep healthy. And stay positive.

Suvendrini Kakuchi is Tokyo correspondent for University World News in the UK.