WISHING ALL MEMBERS A Wonderful New Monkey Year – the best in health, wealth and may all your dreams come true!

Perhaps this sounds like wishful thinking, but a good dose of positive thinking is, I believe, the best way to launch 2016 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club – which is tackling important issues to maintain its fiscal health and journalistic integrity.

On the management side, the board will be looking to finally clear the staff litigants’ case. A settlement has already been reached at the Labor Tribunal and final payment now awaits GMM approval following our by-laws. Ending this second lawsuit will mean more savings for the FCCJ and new opportunity for members and staff to start working together again.

The next big step is pushing ahead with plans for the Club move in 2018.

We all want a swanky new FCCJ in the swanky new Mitsubishi Building in the swanky Marunouchi area. But lurking over our head is the very real battle of finding solutions on how to achieve this. A nagging issue is coping financially, especially with the stark fact of the dwindling numbers of journalists, as they move to other locations or simply retire from their jobs. Your ideas and support are most welcome.

On the journalism front, the Freedom of the Press Committee is planning a seminar in the new year to shed light on the deeper nuances of this critical topic. Indeed, against the spanning of cultures in a growing globalized world, the definition of press freedom must also address the complexities of multicultural societies while maintaining absolute respect for the right to information and speech. Thanks to the diversity within the FCCJ we can expect a lively discussion and fresh perspectives that will contribute to the ongoing international debate on press freedom.

I also would like to report that Asian journalists, who still represent a minority in the FCCJ, plan to start a new forum group that will meet on a regular basis, mainly to discuss and share insights on regional development. It is a well-timed move as Japan begins building stronger alliances with the fastest-growing region in the world. I am looking forward to the emergence of this platform, to which I will also belong, as a means of ushering in dynamism in the Club and to help pave the way to expand the numbers of members from Asia.

Finally, I forecast a more diplomatically active Japan in the new year as I observe the flurry of new approaches undertaken by the Abe government. The latest initiative was in December, with the high- level visit to Delhi by the prime minister to meet his counterpart, Narendra Modi. This resulted in new bilateral pledges and Shinkansen deals with the leader of the sprawling Indian subcontinent. The media on both sides have been supportive of a stronger alliance, touted as important for a security balance in the region, while pointing out the huge economic potential for both.

And so I wrap this month up with a toast to the prosperity of the FCCJ in the coming year.

– Suvendrini Kakuchi