Dear members,

There are quite a few changes going on at the club these days. They are touching personnel, procedures and practices. Before describing the latest moves, it may help to sketch out the guiding principles for our work. 

All of our efforts are organized around three central priorities - ensuring financial viability, building the premier destination for global journalism in Japan and creating the best experience possible for our members. 

The top priority has to be financial stability. The Covid pandemic has taken a heavy toll on membership and, more fundamentally, hurt our day to day operations. We have been losing money despite an emergency levy for members and temporary reduction in rental expense. Without a sound financial foundation, our club will not have a future.

The Membership Marketing Committee is taking the lead in rebuilding this foundation. Keiko Packard and Dave McCombs are working on several programs for drawing and retaining members, in close collaboration with club staff. Will Fee has joined the committee and is helping them think through new ways to attract younger, more diverse participants from across Japan. 

We are also working hard to develop new revenue streams. In one example, I asked (begged?) Karen Severns and the film committee to come up with some ideas for generating money from our popular movie series. They brainstormed and are now working with Toru Morishima and our new chef to restart a late night dinner menu so people can dine after a screening. Thank you!

We have several efforts in the works to build revenue online. Our YouTube channel is so popular that other media pirate our content to make money for themselves, while we make nothing from the videos. We are addressing these issues and experimenting with ways to profit from YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. 

In terms of our journalistic mission, Martin Koelling and Tetsuo Jimbo are hard at work in revitalizing the Professional Activities Committee as we emerge from the pandemic. They have sketched out a clear mission for PAC in the new year, defining key topics we want to prioritize and developing a pipeline for related speakers. They're pressing for more in-person events and will experiment with new formats, including an FCCJ Talk Show.

We have had a successful run of high-profile news events, including appearances from the Ukrainian, Russian and US ambassadors. We have led the way in delving into the controversies around the LDP and the Unification Church, including how they affected public opinion of Shinzo Abe's funeral. More recently, we've had a fierce debate over high-profile issues like the plight of women in Iran, where many are burning their headscarves in protest of the regime.

Our club is unique in Tokyo, as these journalistic endeavors demonstrate. Yet we must do better in creating the best experience possible for members. Tokyo is filled with alternatives for food and drink, entertainment and even high-profile speakers. 

At times, we act like we take our members for granted. Just recently, for example, there was a membership review request that was needlessly antagonistic. For anyone who was offended, please accept our apologies and rest assured we are addressing for the future. We must work every day to ensure that our members believe the FCCJ provides them with an experience they can't get anywhere else.


Peter Elstrom