I’m writing this column for the last edition of Number 1 Shimbun to be edited by Peter O’Connor, who is stepping down at the end of the year, to be replaced by Justin McCurry. It was with a bit of a jolt that I realised this evening that I’ve been Club President since August, but haven’t met Peter in person even once – we know each other only through Zoom, phone calls and emails. That’s just one aspect of the slightly ghostly life many of us have been living since the pandemic broke out – we can be working closely with people even in the same city for months without ever meeting face-to-face. Peter has been a hardworking and nimble editor, producing a timely edition on women just as four female directors were elected to the Board, and delving through the archives to put together a tribute to the Club’s history to mark its 75th anniversary this year, an event that we were sadly unable to celebrate with a party because of virus concerns. Please help Justin maintain Number 1 Shimbun’s high standard in the New Year by pitching ideas for upcoming issues. As we head into the holidays, I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the staff and volun-teers at the Club who have made great efforts to maintain all our areas of activity, despite the unprecedented difficulties we’ve faced in 2020. After a year featuring everyone from would-be prime ministers, to a former member of SMAP, the Professional Activities Committee in Decem-ber offered journalists the opportunity to get right to the heart of a controversy. Both accuser and accused in a sexual assault allegation that has caused a political rift in the traditional hot spring town of Kusatsu in Gunma Prefecture came to the Club to discuss the case. Meanwhile, Book Breaks, film screenings, photo exhibitions and other events have all continued, with care-ful precautions against the virus. If you’re read-ing this before the end of the year, don’t forget, students can still submit entries for the Swadesh DeRoy scholarship up to Dec. 31.There’s a whole lot more to look forward to in 2021. We’re planning to revive our Freedom of the Press awards, so keep an eye out for more details on how to nominate those you see as most deserving in Japan or the region, with prizes to be awarded in the coming months. Plus, I hope by the time this piece goes up on the website we will have reached a final deci-sion on our new Food and Beverage vendor after a long period of deliberations, so there will be a good reason to come to the club to try out the new menu items. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in the Main Bar to toast the arrival of the year of the Ox.
● Isabel Reynolds has been reporting for Bloomberg in Tokyo since 2012. She has lived in Japan for more than 20 years and been a Regular Member of the FCCJ for most of that time.