On the eve of the club’s relocation on Oct. 29, Robert Whiting, the club’s Second Vice President, made a statement looking back fondly at the FCCJ’s history in Yurakucho.
“It is with great nostalgia that I write this, given the many memorable events that have taken place here, particularly as I was front row witness to many of them,” Whiting wrote in a post on the club’s website. “Among the famous individuals who visited were Muhammad Ali, Gina Lollabrigida, Ronald Reagan, Willie Nelson, a young and surprisingly articulate Donald Trump, actor Roger Moore of 007 fame and assorted Nobel laureates and heads of state too numerous to mention. Among Japanese, some of the most influential people in the nation gave press conferences here, including Shintaro Ishihara, Hideki Matsui, figure skaters Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu, actor Ken Watanabe, Tokyo governor-to-be Yuriko Koike, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, animation film director Hayao Miyazaki, and a host of others. Donald Richie and Ed Seidensticker introduced filmmaking and literary giants like Akira Kurosawa and Yasunori Kawabata, respectively.”
The club moved to Yurakucho in 1976. The latest move marks the fourth since the club was founded in September 1945.
The OPC covered news of the move back in 2014, when past OPC President Bill Holstein wrote that “the decline in the number of American correspondents in Tokyo, brought about as news organizations somehow conclude that Japan isn’t interesting or important anymore, has damaged the FCCJ’s finances and created bitter conflict about the club’s future direction.”
Lucy Birmingham, who was president of the FCCJ at the time, responded with a letter stating that “the FCCJ is still solidly run by journalists,” and that “we decided that as a group of foreign reporters, we were not equipped to handling the complexities of a full restaurant and banqueting operation, which was posting large losses. We therefore decided to bring in an outsource partner, one of Japan’s biggest hotel and restaurant operators, allowing the Board and Club management to focus on the journalistic activities that are at the core of what we do.”
Holstein followed up earlier this year with an update and details about what he called “a deep crisis and possibly a threat to its continued existence.” You can read that story here.