LET ME START OFF my column this month with an important reminder for Regular Members. The next General Membership Meeting, a crucial event for Club business, has been scheduled for March 8. Members will be asked to vote on the fiscal 2016 budget and business plan, a labor union settlement that represents the end of the contentious legal suit that has dogged FCCJ finances for many years and other important motions that will affect our upcoming move to the new location in Marunouchi. The Board has worked hard to find solutions to these important issues and if members agree with our recommendations, we believe the officers will be able to work hard toward making progress over the next few months.

I know many of our Regular Members are busy and have little time to devote to Club business. In fact, at the last GMM though it was a Special GMM and not on the regular annual calendar a quorum wasn’t reached, leaving important Club issues on the back burner. So let me also point out that under the present koeki status, GMMs are now held only twice annually, making them even more decisive dates for members.

On the other hand, members are now permitted to read the motions and background prior to the GMM, so that they can send in their votes and proxies without being physically present. I understand that devoting a valuable evening to the FCCJ’s rather raucous GMMs can be demanding, so if you’d rather do it remotely, please send in your vote electronically by email or fax. Also, if some members do not have the time to study the details of the issues facing the FCCJ this March, please feel free to send in your queries to Board officers. The FCCJ is your club and participation is vital for its longevity.

Another date to remember is March 17. Some wellknown former correspondent Members Bill Emmott from the Economist, William Horsley from the BBC and Fernando Mezzetti from La Stampa have timed a visit to the FCCJ where they will be speaking on their latest activities. All were based in Tokyo in the 80’s and 90’s and have covered Japan and East Asian issues widely. I have reserved a corner of the bar that evening for members to meet the journalists and share a drink at lowered prices. The event highlights our ties to the past, when journalists mingled with other journalists and associate members, giving the Club its vitality of open exchange and networking, the hallmarks of our character.

I also want to take this opportunity to offer kudos to the Food and Beverage committee for their fantastic February wine-tasting events. The four sessions, which were organized by the committee this time, showed great results with total ticket sales of 329, the highest total since 2008 and overwhelmingly higher than recent years. Moreover, wine sales surpassed ¥2.5 million. This revised and revived wine tasting program will mean increased income for the FCCJ in the coming months.