The new Club on Jan. 8 played host to one of the biggest press conferences ever held at the FCCJ, when Carlos Ghosn’s lawyers came to speak. The event attracted all of Japan’s main TV networks and about 350 people attended.

Demand was such that we had to close the lunch service early as people spilled over into the Main Bar. The thought that went through my mind while seated at the speakers’ table was the line from the movie Jaws: “We need a bigger boat.”

Why did the lawyers for Ghosn choose the FCCJ for their first press conference? One reason is the Club’s reputation, built over 74 years by the efforts of early members. Another reason is the work of the Professional Activities Committee. In this I must single out PAC co-chair Teddy Jimbo who worked tirelessly to make this happen and was MC for the event. PAC members will remain focused on keeping the FCCJ a central venue for this unfolding story.

In other Club news, I announced earlier that Silvano Borroni’s catering group was the new food and beverage provider. Silvano started operations in early January with his executive chef and pastry chef.

At the FCCJ Board meeting on Jan. 21, General Manager Marcus Fishenden reported that F&B feedback from members was generally positive, although some had raised questions about prices.

The GM said the first items rolled out are from the more expensive section of the prior menu focusing on fresh fish, pasta and good quality steak. Silvano’s kitchen is baking fresh bread and a fuller range of menu items will be available as we move into February.

The GM and Treasurer Willem Kortekaas reported on the latest accounts for December, which reflected many of the one time costs related to the move. However, I can report the move came in under budget.

Meantime, the donation drive continues among members, reaching a total of ¥7 million as of writing, with a particularly generous ¥3 million donation from an Associate Member.

The Number 1 Shimbun editor Greg Starr and Publications Committee Co-Chair Geoff Tudor attended the Board meeting to give an update on the magazine and how to fund it without sustainable advertising. One consideration is a ¥300 addition to membership fees, triggering a discussion on last year’s survey about demand for the magazine among Club members. We need to take a harder look at that survey and perhaps seek more feedback.

A membership drive is high on the Board’s priority list and a plan was approved to offer limited one-month guest memberships with the option to apply for full membership.

Last but not least, we discussed the perennial problem of trying to reach a quorum to hold General Membership Meetings. You will be hearing more on solutions to that issue in the weeks ahead of the March GMM.

Best regards,

– Peter Langan