Table Speech

President’s Address

December 23, 2020

Mr. Michio Hamaguchi
President, Rotary Club of Tokyo

 As I conclude this year with my speech, I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Vice-President Mr. Utsumi, Secretary Mr. Asakawa, all the Directors, Committee Chairmen and Officers, and each member Rotarian for their dedicated support. We surely had a challenging year with the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that halted all Rotary activities. Our Club was no exception and we were forced to suspend our Regular Meetings from March for 4 months. We are grateful to the Imperial Hotel for their generosity to waive cancellation fees especially as the hospitality sector faces unprecedented challenges.

 We resumed our Regular Meetings in July to face yet another problem of how to celebrate our Centennial Anniversary scheduled in just 3 months’ time. We initially planned to invite 300 guests including those from overseas but the pandemic made us carry out our milestone event by inviting our District Governor and his wife on behalf of all the other guests as well as Director of Yoneyama Umekichi Memorial Hall to give our Certificate of Donation. Despite such setbacks, we enjoyed a splendid performance by National Living Treasure Kabuki actor Kichiemon Nakamura together with Intangible Cultural Property Tokiwazu singing led by our member Mr. Tsuneoka, followed by a special dinner course prepared by the Imperial Hotel and Kitcho, a Japanese kaiseki (haute cuisine) restaurant. While our Centennial Party is over, our Centennial Committee members are currently working on a Tokyo RC Centennial History Publication. We also plan to plant 100 dogwood saplings to be donated from our sister club Ardmore RC next year.

 COVID-19 has disrupted other Rotary events, conferences and meeting plans across the country and around the world, including RI Convention in Hawaii, Japan-Taiwan Rotary Friendship Meeting, our Intercity Meeting, Christmas Party and Birthday parties we had organized for 8 years. To sustain our sound membership base is an imminent challenge amidst COVID-19 hardships. Our estimated membership was 339 at the end of December, an increase of 6 members in 6 months since the start of this Rotary Year. Our Club being the oldest in Japan, I believe we should continue to spearhead Rotary activities based on robust membership. Let me ask for your continued support for membership development.

 As we look toward the new year, we must seek ways to cope with this pandemic. We are currently discussing how to organize hybrid Regular Meetings, a unique blend of actual meetings and virtual online participation. It will be an ideal option for our members who prefer to join meetings from home through live video streaming so as to stop the spread of the virus. This will require extra expenses for video cameras and Internet connections but I hope you support our initiative. We also hope to get your suggestions and comments on how best we can organize our activities in the era of with- and after-COVID-19. Let me wish you all a Happy Holiday Season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

The Past, Present and Future of Copyright Law

December 23, 2020

Ms. Yumiko Waseda
Partner, Lawyer, Tokyo Roppongi Law & Patent Office

 The concept of copyright developed in the mid-15th century after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press which was one of the three major inventions of the Renaissance together with gunpowder and nautical compass. Copyright was first granted beneficially to publishers by a monarch. Later publishers and printers formed a trade guild and sought to control the publication of books. The world’s first copyright act “Statute of Anne” was stipulated in 1710. The author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, was one of the strong advocates to protect authors by licensing.

 Here in Japan, the Publishing Ordinance was the first copyright legislation stipulated in 1887, followed by the Copyright Law of 1899 (the old Copyright Law). The current Copyright Law was enacted in 1970 to protect the rights of authors and to ensure fair use of copyrighted works. The Law has been amended a number of times to better address novel questions raised with the emergence of new technologies that provide new tools for creative expression and new vehicles for sharing those works.

 The Copyright Law protects cultural creations called “works of authorship” which are creative expressions of thoughts or sentiments in the forms of literature, arts and music. The creator is called “author” and is limited to human beings. In other words, works created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not subject to copyright protection. Having said that, the emergence of the digital network era is challenging the copyright system. Digital networking technologies have accelerated utilization and distribution of information over the Internet around the world in the forms of texts, images, sounds and motions. It is a challenge to identify how permissible it is to reproduce preexisting works by digital format. For example, the Copyright Law was amended to give teachers flexibility in reproducing pre-existing works in his/her teaching material without authorization of the author. How to protect digital content against illegal copying and on-line dissemination is another serious issue partly because such illegal content is often operated by anonymous servers in overseas countries. In recent years, Japanese cartoon manga content has been scanned and distributed illegally via the Internet, causing financial losses worth several hundreds of billions of yen to the publishing industry. To fight Internet piracy, our Government works in collaboration with the private sector and takes a multifaceted approach that includes amending the Privacy Act, injunctions under the Code of Civil Procedure, criminal punishment and advocacy campaigns on copyrights.

 The concept and system of copyright have come a long way since its introduction dating back to Gutenberg’s printing press to the most recent data proliferation in the digital age. As we look ahead, new technologies and services will further redirect and reshape the course of copyright law.