As I write, I’ve just finished watching a Book Break with the award-winning writer Yu Miri, whose commitment to working with the survivors of the 2011 Fukushima disaster led her to take up residence in Minamisoma, just up the coast from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. While maintaining a literary career that brought her the National Book Award for translated literature last year, Yu now runs a bookshop and a community theater, in the hope that access to the arts can help plant the seeds of recovery for a community still devastated by the events of a decade ago. Her courage and resilience certainly put my own challenges into perspective.
Many of our press conferences this month are related to the triple disaster on Japan’s northeast coast and its myriad after-effects, as we remember the more than 18,000 people who died and the tens of thousands still evacuated from their homes. We’ll have two former prime ministers – Junichiro Koizumi and Naoto Kan – in a rare joint appearance for former political rivals brought together by their shared determination to rid Japan of nuclear power, an idea for which the government has expressed little enthusiasm. We’ll also be hearing from the governor of Fukushima prefecture on how the reconstruction process is faring, as well as from Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who led parliament’s investigation into the handling of the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.
Speaking of investigations, this seems like a good moment to remind you to make your nominations for the Freedom of the Press Award. All Club members, regardless of category, are eligible to nominate journalists or media outlets for this year’s awards: one for Japan coverage and one for work in the Asia-Pacific region.
Closer to home, we’re looking forward to the end of the state of emergency in Tokyo, which may come on March 7 as the number of new virus cases falls in the capital, albeit a little more slowly than we had hoped. It’s not yet clear what that will mean for our bar and restaurant hours, so please keep an eye out for further announcements. Please note that the requirement to wear a mask in the Club, except while eating or drinking, will remain in place regardless of the emergency.
You will have noticed the survey recently sent out to members by our Japan Market Expansion Competition team. I hope most members took part and I’m looking forward to seeing the results, which will help us map out our plans for the future. But there are regular opportunities to make your voice heard and to learn about what’s going on at the Club. The General Meeting is coming up on March 22, at which we ask members to approve our financial report and budget. Please mark your diaries and be sure to attend, whether online or in person – this is your Club and it can’t function without your participation.
● Isabel Reynolds has been reporting for Bloomberg in Tokyo since 2012. She has lived in Japan for more than 20 years and been a Regular Member of the FCCJ for most of that time.