FOUR YEARS HAVE ALREADY passed since the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima disaster. The high school boy I profiled in my book on the disaster will be graduating from university this month. While his upcoming career offers much promise, thousands remain in the hard hit areas still struggling to recover from that fateful day.

We hear much about a “new fatalism” afflicting Japanese youth. “In violent times young Japanese just shrug,” reads a Japan Times article. Yet the young participants in journalism talks I’ve attended are filled with curiosity and questions. Interestingly, we saw a spike of applications for student memberships in January, thanks to introductions from our members, and our Dateline Tokyo program brought a similar number of interns into the Club last fall. We’re hoping to expand this program in coordination with Temple University Japan.

On March 18 (19:00-20:00) we’ll have our first, monthly Happy Hour for young journalists in the Main Bar. Of course it’s open to journalists of any age as well as nonmembers, so bring your journalist friends.

In addition, we’ve had a flood of inquiries about our program for Japanese elementary, junior high and high school students. It’s part of our public service efforts, and features a talk by one of our journalist members about their work experience and news issues. So far we’ve booked 15 high school groups from 30 to 180 students each, from all over Japan over the next year.

Please also spread the word about our annual Swadesh DeRoy Scholarship awards targeting university undergraduate and graduate students, which is organized by the Scholarship Committee. The deadline for entries is March 27, and there’s more information on our website at: PDFs/2015Swadeshscholarship.pdf

Last but not least, the Freedom of the Press Committee has officially announced the Club’s inaugural “Japan Investigative Journalism Awards” for published articles and “Freedom of the Press Awards” with four categories. Judges will include well-known news media figures. Nominations will be accepted from FCCJ members and specified press and media organizations until March 31. Award winners will be announced on Sun. May 3, World Press Freedom Day. The awards ceremony and dinner will be Fri. May 22. Check the Club website for details.

Wishing you a March free of pollen sniffles and full of newly bursting cherry blossoms.