Dear members,

The arrival of the cherry blossoms heralds a new financial year and a fresh beginning. In the same spirit, the FCCJ is moving out of Covid-19 restrictions with the energy to start again. I believe we can all play our part in making good on our plans to bring the pre-pandemic days back to our Club.

I would like to congratulate the Associated Members Liaison Committee for organizing a successful welcome party for new members. Overall, almost 1,000 people attended. Associate members representing the corporate and academic worlds were out in force. I was happy to see everyone exchanging meishi over drinks and snacks. Several board members were also there to greet new members – people who will patronize the Club and strengthen our commitment to a free press.

Tokyo’s pandemic restrictions mean that FCCJ members, both new and old, have not had many opportunities to meet each other and FCCJ staff over the past two years. But late last month, the Club was finally able to host a reception and orientation session, with drinks and snacks, for new members who had joined between January 2020 and March 2022.

I met people from an eclectic range of backgrounds. One new member had worked with the world's top musicians and even met Frank Sinatra. He promised to bring big jazz artists to the Club this year, so stay tuned.

Other new members said they were planning to join FCCJ committees to contribute to Club life. All of the new members were given guided tours of the Club, including the library, workroom and other facilities.

The event ended early but the conversations continued in a packed main bar as people took advantage of the regular opening hours and ordered plenty of food and drink. When I left at 9 p.m., there were still lots of people in the bar – another sign of better things to come. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work.

Let me also remind you that the Board is ready to invite a new sushi vendor, with priority placed on securing the freshest, tastiest produce. The new Masukomi Sushi bar will open in the next couple of months. Everyone, especially the new general manager, Toru, is working hard on making this happen as soon as possible. 

Please also note that from April we will be open at weekends, and will be using that time to launch special menus in the hope of luring more members and their friends with the promise of a leisurely Saturday or Sunday - or both – with good food and drink in pleasant surroundings.

On the journalism front, our recent press conferences have focused heavily on the war in Ukraine and its impact on Japan. I wrote a piece that looked at Japan’s unprecedented cooperation with its Western allies and what that could mean for the country’s foreign policy direction.

I can’t thank members enough for the hard work and devotion they have put in to guiding our Club out of difficult times and toward a brighter future.

Thank you.

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