Dear members,

I am sure everyone is looking forward to spring after a particularly harsh winter. I certainly am, not least because it coincides with a busy time for the Club and its Board.

First and foremost, I hope the warmer weather brings more of you to the Club, and more frequently. One of our most important challenges will be to move forward and shake off the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our services. Let me take this opportunity to thank the staff, under the leadership of our new General Manager, Toru Morishima, for their selfless commitment in directing the FCCJ in February, when we grappled with a drop in guests and income, as well as severe staff shortages.

Having weathered the omicron storm, FCCJ committees are now working hard to liven things up with new menus and activities. I am now working on a plan to approach other tenants in the Marunouchi Nijubashi Building with the idea of holding “block-parties” at the FCCJ. I’m just waiting for the right moment, so stay tuned for details.

We are on the verge of selecting a new vendor for our popular Masukomi sushi bar. It is a great shame to see the current operator leave after many decades of service, due to management changes enforced by the pandemic. The official Covid-19 emergency measures that resulted in the closure of businesses on and off over the past two years led to a drop in customers that hit the company hard. We have some established companies that are ready to work with us, with the final selection the responsibility of a committee comprising members with expertise in catering and management.

The General Membership Meeting will be held on March 30, so I look forward to seeing you all there. This is an important gathering, when we will discuss plans for the coming year, including, of course, our budget. Naturally, the next financial year will be a crucial one for the FCCJ, faced with a fluctuating membership and financial challenges. The support of members will be critical, both financially and in terms of the services we are able to offer.

On March 16, officials from the Cabinet Office will conduct their regular inspection of the FCCJ, as required by our koeki status. Everything is in place for their visit, thanks to the leadership of the Compliance Committee, and Toru Morishima and his team.

Morishima is now a familiar face at the Club. He enjoys a strong rapport with the staff, and has set high standards that leave me optimistic about the Club’s future. I encourage everyone to support him, and please feel free to suggest ideas to improve the FCCJ and its services.

This is the time of the year when members should ask themselves how they can better serve the FCCJ by getting more involved. We need people to become active as new Board members or to join one of our many committees. I look forward to seeing as many people as possible getting involved, and will do my utmost to help them settle in.

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