THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS COMMITTEE IS AN official standing committee at this Club that seems to have slipped into the background in recent years. Indeed, many newer or younger members of the FCCJ probably have little idea what it is supposed to be doing or even that it exists at all. Now the old dragon is beginning to stir and is coming to life once again. Let all the information cartels beware!

Reviewing some old reports of the Committee, we discovered some rather fine expressions of its overall mission. For example, as the 2009-2010 co-chairs, Joel Legendre Koizumi and Monzurul Huq, explained more than three years ago: “The FCCJ is a professional club comprising journalists. It is our duty as the Freedom of the

The Committee will once again emerge as a key player in helping our journalist members do their jobs in Japan without illegitimate hindrances

Press Committee of the FCCJ, and an act central to good governance, to guarantee basic due process to our own journalists members so that we can be trusted to report and to investigate in the course of our professional assignments.”

But, honestly speaking, how many professional journalists at our Club can cite a recent example in which the FCCJ Freedom of the Press Committee helped guarantee their due process or facilitated their professional work in Japan?

Well, we are here to declare that this era of passivity is behind us and that the Committee will once again emerge as a key player in helping our journalist members do their jobs in Japan without illegitimate hindrances. We will also be cognizant of international developments when the well being of journalism is threatened on various fronts around the world.

Since we realize that we are taking on a major task, we have gathered an impressive group of working journalists to comprise the inaugural membership.

The new chairman is Michael Penn. Since he also serves as the Board of Directors Secretary and as a Board Liaison to the Professional Activities Committee (PAC), he is well placed to coordinate the committee’s strategies and to ensure smooth communication between various centers of the Club’s media activities.

To assist the work of the full committee, three subcommittees have been established to develop specific projects.

Patrick Zoll heads the Information Subcommittee, which is mandated to plan, execute and manage the establishment of a “Journalist Information Service” for the purpose of collecting information about local media events and ultimately presenting this information to the Club’s Regular Members. You’ll be hearing more about this project in the weeks ahead.

Fuyuko Nishisato guides the Access Subcommittee, which will study, educate and lobby in relation to Japan’s closed access press club system. This subcommittee will also liaise with Japanese freelance and mainstream journalists who share a common interest in opening up the nation’s media system.

Nathalie Kyoko Stucky, who ran in the recent Board of Directors elections, leads the Declarations Subcommittee, which will set guidelines and release statements in relation to national and international events affecting press freedom. This subcommittee will also liaise with international organizations that share our values in promoting a democratic media.

The other inaugural members of the Freedom of the Press Committee are Albert Siegel, Joel Legendre Koizumi, Jake Adelstein, Carsten Germis, and Antoine Bouthier.

If there are other working journalists who want to get involved in the fight for a democratic media, we encourage you to contact a Freedom of the Press Committee member. We can use your energy!

Also, if you face a professional obstacle that you believe should be referred to our committee, we want to hear from you too.

Back in the days of the 2006-2007 Committee under then Chairman David McNeill, there was an email “Freedom of the Press Forum” that was laid to rest due to a series of technical problems and, apparently, the signature political infighting for which our Club has become famous.

We will refer to these dust covered debates and long defunct projects as we compile our own communication strategies. But we intend to be a committee of action that trains our heavy guns on those who illegitimately block our access to information, including Japanese press clubs, hindering our professional activities as journalists, rather than adopting the old FCCJ “circular firing squad” approach in which most of the energy is spent arguing with one another instead of fighting our true foes.

We look forward to keeping all members up to date with our initiatives and other activities through the soon to be renewed website and on these pages.