WOW, THERE’S NOTHING LIKE STARTING off WITH A BANG. I knew the president’s job came with issues but I never realized how many. (I’m appreciating former president Georges Baumgartner more and more for his three year tenure!) The six items below are top priority for the Club. Woven within these are my goals to bring complete transparency, improve our reputation and strengthen our core as a journalist’s club while creating a more attractive atmosphere for Associates and others to socialize.

(1) PUBLIC INTEREST ASSOC. (KOEKI SHADAN HOJIN): Our reincorporation with koeki status from April 1 next year should open a whole new world for us. Our application has been filed and we see no landmines ahead. We will need to contribute 50 percent or more of our income for public service, but we’ll also receive significant benefits in return. Most importantly, our role as Japan’s longest and most active foreign journalists’ organization promoting freedom of the press will be strengthened. In legal terms, we will be on equal footing with the Nippon Kisha Club. The FCCJ will also be able to receive tax deductible donations which could be used for capital expenditures, such as badly needed renovations. We will also be largely sheltered from the proposed consumption tax increase that could take effect next April. In addition, koeki status will be an opportunity for the Associate members to finally have representation on the board of directors.

While F&B outsourcing produced conflict, it has been a financial blessing in disguise. First, outsourcing was necessary to gain koeki status. Second, the Club could no longer continue using membership fees to support our F&B operation. We are working hard to quickly settle the unfortunate related lawsuits. We need your continued support in our ongoing efforts toward becoming a Public Interest Association.

(2) INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT SERVICE CO./TOKYU: We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with IRS and Tokyu on all fronts. In addition to meal service, they have proposed working with us on marketing projects, both membership and banquets/sales. We will be able to tap into their wide and established network of contacts.

(3) INCREASING MEMBERSHIP: To remain financially stable we need to regain 200 to 300 new members. We've launched a broad membership campaign with financial incentives. The newly formed Membership Marketing Committee will be overseeing this. But we greatly need your input and participation to make this successful. Please contact me anytime about this.

(4) WEBSITE: Our new website will be launched on October 1! This will boost our presence worldwide with quality journalism from our members; wider information about our many impressive speakers and press conferences/PAC events; connections with Facebook, Twitter and other SNS services; and much more. Our hardworking website team has developed a preliminary design that looks great, is easy to navigate, and is flexible with options to expand capability. We are sure you’ll enjoy it.

(5) NEW GENERAL MANAGER: We’re now wrapping up our GM search with excellent candidates. We hope the finalist will come on board no later than Oct. 1. A new GM will bring needed controls to the Club, motivate employees, find ways to streamline and reduce our personnel costs and find resources to modernize and renovate our facilities.

(6) MOVING LOCATION: To move or not to move? That is the question. . . . A member recently told me the Club looks so shabby he didn’t want to hold his event there. Fortunately I was able to change his mind, but the comment was a reality check. The Club’s facilities are aging fast and we desperately need to replace equipment. We have studied moving options before, and were recently approached by a management company to consider a property in Akasaka mitsuke. But our convenient location and enviable views are a strong incentive to stay put. We need to do a thorough cost analysis. Then ultimately the general membership will decide.

— Lucy Birmingham