There is a famous statement delivered by the late Ambassador Mansfield: “Japan-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship bar none”. My first impression about this was “a little too exaggerated”. I thought the statement was merely out of his responsibility as the US Ambassador to Japan.
However, I now am inclined to think that this is true. We see turmoil in the Middle East, instability in Europe and power display by China and Russia. On the other hand, the incomparable stable and amicable relations forged between Japan and USA, with quite different historical backgrounds, should be regarded as a great contribution to the world.
We have had various economic frictions and there had been a time we experienced political struggles between Japan and USA. During such periods, however, it is the friendship in the private sectors that sustained the bilateral relationship. The everlasting efforts by the peoples for enhancing mutual understanding on the respective culture and national identity should be greatly attributable to this.
There was a time when America-Japan Society (AJS) was the sole channel of Japan-US interchange on a private level. Today, however, there are many other entities of the kind. And yet, there are three distinctive characteristics for AJS compared to those other entities.
First, the history. The Society was founded in 1917 and Count Kentaro Kaneko was nominated as the first president of the Society. After the WWII, the Society has been led by the presidents who were former prime ministers such as Shigeru Yoshida, Nobusuke Kishi and Takeo Fukuda.
Second, the horizontal linkage with other entities. There are affiliated societies (37 in USA and 30 in Japan) and there are concerted assemblies with those affiliated societies every other year. Such a broad-ranging network is unequaled anywhere.
Third, current activities. We have monthly programs which are not only lecturing but conducting discussions through Q&A having prominent figures on the timely subjects. New Year Party at US Ambassador’s residence, visit to US aircraft carrier etc are a few of other various activities by the Society. In planning our activities, we have been always trying to improve the quality of the programs not falling into a groove. Please come to our monthly programs. They must be interesting to you.
Because of those characteristic nature of our Society, the number of the Society’s membership has been increasing. We welcome new members, especially younger generation, female and American citizens.
We will be commemorating our centennial anniversary next year. Why don’t you join us as a member at this historical timing?
- AJS Presidents
(as of November, 2016)
The First President Viscount Kentaro Kaneko (1917-1924) The Second President Prince Iyesato Tokugawa (1924-1940) The Third President Count Aysuke Kabayama (1941-1950) The Fourth President Mr. Takashi Komatsu (1950-1960) The Fifth President Prime Minster Shigeru Yoshida (1960-1967) The Sixth President Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi (1968-1984) The Seventh President Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda (1984-1995) The Eighth President Ambassador Yoshio Okawara (1995-2013) The Ninth President Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki (2013- )