THE FCCJ'S "VOLUNTEER" SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL. With the 2016-2017 FCCJ BOD year winding to a close, I would like to extend to the Club’s membership and particularly the dozens of volunteers my appreciation for their support and trust, and I hope that the next administration carries on the FCCJ’s soon-to-be 72 year journey representing the free press in one of the world’s most important news hubs: Tokyo, Japan.

When I was honored to become the FCCJ President last September, I inherited a role leading the Club in one of its most trying periods. We learned that the membership had never been informed of many details of our contract with Mitsubishi Estate, our landlord, to move the Club to the new Fuji Building, including tens of millions of yen in moving costs.

I did not want to be the bearer of bad news. But in the interest of transparency and complete compliance with the Club’s bylaws on financial matters, we met with the club’s lawyers and were advised to “revote” the move resolution, which we did. We had an open debate. And we are now proceeding with the project.

In recent weeks, I met with Mitsubishi’s management, hoping to get better terms. I believe it is still possible, because I assured the senior executive I met that we we value our longterm relationship with Mitsubishi. If the new BOD wishes to pursue those talks further, I have informed Mitsubishi’s management of the financial and operational problems facing the Club.

For the time being, it’s up to the next BOD, hopefully, to continue the work of the current BOD, fixing and improving our operations. We are currently negotiating with a new caterer, which should bring revenues into the Club.

One immediate consequence if I understand the terms being negotiated is that we will be able to hold more PAC luncheons because under the agreement with the previous caterer we are losing money. We’ll make money again on our Saturday Night Live program.

I want to thank the Food & Beverage committee. I want to thank the Finance committee. I want to thank the Entertainment committee. I want to thank PAC, the Publications and Special Projects committees. I want to thank the Library & Work Room committee for our excellent “Book Break” series. I want to thank the H&P committee and the “move” task force, and Membership committee. I want to thank Brad Martin, who took time away from his writing projects, to serve as parliamentarian and now Election Committee chair. My thanks also go to all other committees, all let by volunteers, including the ad hoc complience

I am aware that my list is incomplete, but let me just conclude by saying that I want to thank everyone who volunteered their time to make this year’s FCCJ successful. And last but not least, I want to thank our staff, for years the one constant of the Club.

Let’s hope that the membership will be as active this June and elect us a new BOD of qualified members to continue our mission until it is accomplished.

Thank you all.

It was an honor.One postscript: with Publications committee, it is clear that “volunteerism” only goes so far. And perhaps that’s the way it should be for a writer’s club. The committee advised me in no uncertain terms that it wouldn’t be able to find writers without offering some sort of compensation. To deal with the writer problem, and to give the hardworking members of the committee and the chairs, Gavin Blair and Dan Sloan, the discretion to assign stories to Club Members, I have asked that they come up with a formula that doesn’t contravene the bylaws, which prohibit committee members from being compensated if they write for the magazine.

I will take it as my personal responsibility to propose a bylaws amendment if that is necessary in the coming BOD term. No. 1 Shimbun marks its 49th birthday this autumn. Thank you all.

– Khaldon Azhari