Dear Members,

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.