Dear members,

Digital transformation has been a buzz phrase for a while now. But it’s a lifeline for the club. To stay relevant and make the club easier to use, we must rebuild its information technology base.

This means moving our databases and email servers to data centers, i.e., the cloud. It also requires setting up an online events management system for planning and executing press conferences, talk shows, banquets and parties – then tracking and analyzing the results. For the library, digital transformation includes shifting from paper subscriptions to online offerings, digitizing photos, maps, books and historical documents and automating some basic research functions.

Facial recognition is also part of the picture, and a top priority. With this technology, you’ll be able to enter the club, pay for drinks and dinner, RSVP for a press event, reserve the club’s studio or initiate a library research project with a single click on your smartphone, tablet or PC, using your face as verification. Such a system can upgrade club security while making electronic payments, accounting and auditing faster, safer and more efficient. These improvements will significantly reduce costs, empower a loyalty program and make using the club easier for everyone. We’ll know who’s entering and using the club at all times and can, accordingly, offer rewards from free meals to event chits to “frequent fliers”.

Some of this is expensive, and some is free. But it is all necessary for the club’s survival. Journalism, public relations and advertising have already gone through digital transformations. Against this, the club has struggled to maintain its status as an essential institution supporting the day-to-day work of foreign correspondents.

Moving to the cloud, getting a facial recognition/payments system won’t restore the club’s centrality as a gathering place for correspondents, nor directly expand its role as a freedom of the press bulwark. But it will make the club much more efficient and fuel growth in memberships, without which we will not survive.

We have already taken the first steps. As a nonprofit, we have secured free access for staff and board members to Google Workspace, the cloud-based application package that very securely runs everything from email to videoconferencing, club calendars, shared worksheets, document storage and event planning applications. This generous offering from Google includes $10,000 (¥1.5 million) in AdSense credit – affording us a big jumpstart in promoting the club to targeted markets using the dominant search engine. Very soon, we will also have free access to Microsoft365, Adobe Creative Cloud and Canva, a very easy-to-use cloud-based graphics application.

As noted, not everything is free. We still need support from foundations, companies and individuals to fully execute this transformation. We’re getting started there, as well, with the establishment of the Yuusuke Wada DX Fund. We expect the initial amount of this seed fund to be ¥1 million to help get the club’s digital transformation off the ground and to demonstrate an all-important first step to other potential supporters.

Many of you will know that Mr. Wada is a very generous longtime member of the club. He has now agreed to dedicate donations to the club for digital transformation. He has also invested his own time in developing and maintaining the club’s IT base and, recently, to helping to organize the 78th Anniversary Party. Thank you, Mr. Wada!

If you haven’t already RSVP’d for the club’s December 1 birthday celebration, please consider doing so soon. We’ve invited ambassadors from all G20 and ASEAN countries and other guests of honor. House of Councillors member Seiko Hashimoto, who competed in both the winter and summer Olympics as a speed skater and track cyclist, and became president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, will be there along with a yet-to-be-named keynote speaker from the world of journalism. Seed money for the event was provided by Mr. Wada. Proceeds from the party will go to the DX Fund, so attending is a great way to show support for the club and its digital transformation. It’s also a great way to drink up, enjoy a sumptuous banquet and dance to the joyful jazz razzamatazz of Yoshio Toyama and the Dixie Saints.

What could be more fun than a big night out to support the club and freedom of the press? Joining an FCCJ committee! OK, perhaps that’s not pure dopamine-rushing excitement, but it’s very important. Whether you’re relatively new to the club or a long-time member, now is the time to get more active in helping us ease into the digital future and keeping us on track with traditional free-press values. We’re looking for people to work on all committees, but most in need are Food & Beverage, the Election Committee, the Public Relations Committee and, of course, the IT Committee. To paraphrase a young U.S. president from long ago: ask not what the FCCJ can do for you; ask what you can do for the FCCJ.

To find out more about such opportunities, please feel free to message me at