WE, THE THREE UNDERSIGNED PAST PRESIDENTS OF THE FCCJ, URGE ALL members to pause and consider what has happened to this 67-year old institution to which we have devoted much of our life and energies.

We believe that the FCCJ has seriously deteriorated as a social club through the Board's decison to relinquish control over our food and beverage operations and to dispense with the services of many long serving staff. We were angered at seeing this action justified on the ground that the FCCJ was on the verge of bankruptcy, and genuinely shocked when the President gave interviews to local media spreading this damaging untruth.

We were angered by the Board's argument that outsourcing was necessary in order for the Club to qualify as a public interest association under the new Shadan Hojin law. Even if this koeki status were advantageous to us and we can only see disadvantages the case could have been argued, as the Yokohama Club did, that just about all the staff and other expenses related to performing public interest activities are allowable as koeki related expenditures. We know from personal experience and expert advice that Japanese authorities are flexible in interpreting such things.

We were angry at the way in which the outsourcing case was misrepresented to the membership with false assurances being offered that staff would be protected to the maximum when in fact opposite assurances were being given to candidate outsourcing companies that their obligations in retaining staff were minimal.

We could hardly believe that the Board pushed ahead with its plans in as relentless and ruthless a manner as was done, ignoring our pleas and arguments for caution, and rejecting a thorough discussion among a better informed membership. The President even walked out of the room, refusing to answer a question by Sam Jameson at an election debate he himself had scheduled. The question, moreover, was based on the statement the President submitted in writing to the debate participants. The debate was then declared closed.

We constantly hear that the crucial decisions were taken with a mandate that resulted from a democratic process. But we cannot stretch our imagination to a point where a decision critically affecting all 340 regular members and some 1,600 Associate members was taken by just 47 members present at the March GMM with the aid of 38 proxy votes (4.2% of total membership) is regarded as democratic. As journalists reporting on political developments all over the world know very well, a first requirement for democracy is an understanding among voters of what they are voting for.

We were not allowed access to the Club's email list through which we could have informed the membership of our doubts and the knowledge we had gained by studying relevant aspects of the matter. Instead we are regularly characterized as opponents who do not know what they are talking about.

Had a truly "democratic" process been pursued, and a genuine discussion taken place, we are sure that outsourcing would not have been approved, or such unprincipled treatment of staff been allowed.

We are under the almost inescapable impression that dispensing with FCCJ staff was the primary aim of the President, and that the fiction that the Club faced ultimate financial difficulties and the (equally untrue) assertion that the law demanded outsourcing were used as a cover to achieve this aim. Plans for outsourcing existed before the supposed conditions for koeki status were revealed.

We saw no alternative but to seek fair and true representation of the full facts by resort to the law. The law of the land takes precedence over other rules and regulations and everyone has the right to seek its protection; in this case protection of the FCCJ against undemocratic measures that severely undermine its character as a social club.

— Anthony Rowley
Sam Jameson
Karel van Wolferen