SO CLOSE, BUT SO far. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics may seem a distant six years away, but they’re already looming close as organizing committees congregate, Olympic and Paralympic athletes visit from abroad, and marketing/ad agencies gear up to draw more attention to Tokyo than the city has seen since 1964.

As part of these efforts, we’ve just concluded our Dateline Tokyo 2014 program, in which we collaborated with the Tokyo Metropolitan government to invite six journalists from India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and the U.S. for a six week stay that ended Oct. 31. Despite the Olympic sized organizational challenges, the program has been deemed a success with the visitors producing articles, video reports and blog posts for such outlets as the New York Times, Forbes, the Huffington Post, Japan Today, Al Jazeera and the South China Morning Post. We’ll be posting a list of links on the FCCJ website.

On the Paralympics front, a recent highlight for me was the opportunity to emcee on Oct. 16 a PAC press conference with Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, and Mr. Yasushi Yamawaki, president of the Japanese Paralympic Committee. Sir Philip was truly inspiring. A five time Paralympian in wheelchair basketball, he has won gold, silver and bronze medals at numerous world championships. He spoke about the transformative effect on the places and people where the Paralympics have been held.

Coincidentally, I just finished reading the deeply inspiring story of Olympic runner and WWII POW survivor Louis Zampernini. Author Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book on Zampernini’s extraordinary life, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption has been adapted into a film directed by Angelina Jolie to be released in December.

The book mentions Robert Trumbull, the legendary New York Times correspondent, Tokyo bureau chief and FCCJ director who covered WWII and the occupation. And former FCCJ member Peter Hadfield is credited in the book with tracking down in 1996 a psychotic prison camp guard who beat Zampernini daily. Hadfield’s remarkable interview with Mutsuhiro Watanabe “the Bird” was published in the Daily Mail.

Unbroken reexamines the senseless, unimaginable cruelty suffered by WWII POWs under Japan’s military governance. As Japan’s leaders now push to extend the country’s military role backed by constitutional change, the book is a reminder of the ruinous impact of military aggression and the dire necessity of lasting peace on all sides of the Pacific, and beyond.

We’ll have an opportunity to revisit the wartime experiences of more athletes on the other side of the Pacific at the special FCCJ screening of The Vancouver Asahi at the Canadian Embassy on Dec. 10. This moving film is about the Canadian Japanese baseball team who were five time champions before being interned in camps after Pearl Harbor. Don’t miss it.

Back in Yurakucho, don’t miss the opportunity to spread the word to friends and colleagues about the Club’s new membership campaign going on until Dec. 31. There’s no joining fee for the Young and Regular Professional Journalist Associate categories. There’s ¥50,000 off on the joining fee for Associate members and ¥30,000 off for Young Associates. Introductory discount vouchers apply to all categories.

Wishing you a November bright with fall colors and the peaceful moments to enjoy it.

— Lucy Birmingham