Dear members,

Bagpipes. I’m hearing bagpipes. At the FCCJ. On a Monday evening. It can’t have been the first time that unmistakable whine has howled through the club, but it made quite an impression. The piper was there for Brian Long. A couple dozen of his friends had filled out the Pen & Quill for some fine dining to celebrate the publication of his 100th book.  The party later spilled into the main bar, and I got a chance to meet Brian and have a quick chat. He has many a story to tell, as you might guess of an author who’s achieved the century milestone. 

He’s also a member of the Society of Automotive Historians and the Guild of Motoring Writers. Ask him about the new Porsche 718 Cayman or the 917, or Honda’s NSX supercar. Or get him talking about the Dobermann and thoroughbred racehorse he keeps at his place out in Chiba. Settle in for the ride!

More than happenstance, it was a good reminder of one reason we join the FCCJ – to meet and mingle with fascinating people. Over the past year or so, I’ve heard from longtime members that the club has lost a step in that regard. Not enough raconteurs around or not enough chances to meet them by chance at the bar. That was far from true on Monday.

And more than a fascinating chat was on offer that day at the club. In the afternoon, a Kyodo News reporter held a press conference to announce he would be suing his employer. The suit accuses Kyodo of blocking publication of his book, The Sanctuary of Bullying: The Complete Record of Parents Who Took on the Dark Side of a Christian School. It’s an important case that involves coverage of a student’s bullying-linked death. It is also important that Yoichi Ishikawa, the Kyodo journalist, chose the FCCJ to get his message out. He later said in a blog post that he knew he wouldn’t get fair hearing via any other press club in Japan. Another reminder of why we joined the club.

It’s also a big reason we keep supporting the FCCJ and working to communicate the club’s importance as a bulwark and bastion of press freedom.

One other thing that happened at the club on Monday: some excellent peers supported my bid to become president. These are women and men who’ve tolerated, assisted, educated and encouraged me on the board for the previous 12 months. They have also proven to be deeply committed to the club’s irreplaceable role in maintaining press freedom. I’ve promised not to let them, or the club’s members, down.

Your new board also includes some excellent additions: Anthony Trotter and Toshifumi Nagasaka. Anthony is a cameraman at ABC News and secretary of the board. Toshifumi is a certified public accountant and the club’s new treasurer. Please welcome and thank them for their service if you see them around the club. We’re also very lucky to have former president and club stalwart Khaldon Azhari back in action as a director, bringing decades of invaluable experience and insight to the table.

In addition to thanking all who voted in the board election, I’d like to offer special gratitude to Reed Stevenson of Bloomberg News for agreeing to take on another series of voting rounds as chairman of the election committee. It’s a big task and an important one. Reed stepped up when the club really needed him. Thanks, Reed!

Have an excellent remainder of summer and watch this space for exciting new developments this fall. And bagpipes. More bagpipes!

Dave McCombs