In 1960, the presidents
of nine Japan and Japan-America Societies joined a committee chaired
by John D. Rockefeller III and formed to celebrate the centennial
for the first Treaty of Trade and Amity between Japan and the United
States. Collective activity and sporadic meetings of the Japan America
Societies continued during the 1960s.
In 1968, representatives of seven
societies met in Tokyo to celebrate the Meiji Centennial. In 1975,
a joint conference was held in New York, and in 1977, a more formal
meeting took place in Washington, D.C., leading to the decision
to meet every other year.
At the 1979 meeting in Los Angeles,
where thirteen societies participated, the Association came officially
into existence under its first chairman, former Ambassador U.Alexis
Johnson. It was incorporated in New York State, and was located
in New York City until 1999.
In 1981, the Association's first annual
conference was held in Chicago. Member societies alternate hosting
the annual meetings.
Initial funding for NAJAS operations and salary came from society
dues, the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, and a grant
from Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.
In October 1990, the name of the organization
was officially changed to the National Association of Japan-America
Societies in order to reflect more clearly the nationwide scope
of its then twenty-five member societies.
In October 1999, the National Association
of Japan-America Societies celebrated its twenty year anniversary
and relocated its headquarters to the nation's capital.
In 2001, NAJAS inaugurated its annual State of the U.S.-Japan Relations
Symposium, held in Washington, DC.
From 2003 to 2004, NAJAS has served as Secretariat
for the 150th Anniversary of U.S.-Japan relations which commenced
with Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan in 1853.