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Guidelines for Forming A Japan-America Society

  Guidelines for Forming A Japan-America Society

I. Analyze your community

Determine the amount of interest in your community for a Japan-America Society. Find out whether there is sufficient interest to give financial support and to provide members for such an organization. Find out whether the formation of a society would be a duplication of what another organization in your area already provides. Consider these points before approaching corporations for membership and/or funding. It is usually best to solicit American corporate support before seeking Japanese corporate support.


II. Develop a Steering Committee

The first task of the steering committee is to formulate a mission statement. This challenging work will help the group to focus on the reasons for forming a society. Typically, a great deal of discussion is necessary before the group comes to agreement. Then, this consensus needs to be articulated in a clear, brief statement. The mission statement should describe the society's goals. For example:

  • to promote goodwill between Japan and your community
  • to provide a non-partisan forum for the exchange of ideas
  • to educate your community about Japan

The mission statement might include a brief description of how your group goes about achieving its goals. For example:

  • by means of regularly scheduled lectures, meetings
  • through a newsletter, or other publications
  • by offering Japanese language classes
  • by outreach to the education community

Once the mission statement has been formulated, it can be used on pamphlets or brochures to solicit membership or for publicity purposes.

The second task of the steering committee is to develop a committee structure to accomplish the goals set out by the society in its mission statement. Typically the following committees are formed:

  • membership (to determine realistic dues structure in consultation with finance committee, to solicit corporate and general members, to keep accurate records of membership)
  • education (to provide language courses, outreach programs in community schools, exchange programs)
  • program (to generate ideas and provide contacts for programming)
  • communications (to handle public relations, produce and distribute a newsletter)
  • nominating (to establish and sustain methods of rotation of leadership)
  • level of a long range business plan for future viability of the organization

The third task of the steering committee is to prepare by-laws to be adopted by the Board of Directors. (Examples of NAJAS by-laws are available on request.)

The fourth task of the steering committee is to draw up a master chart of proposed activity for the first 6 months to a year. The information should come from the various committee chairs. This chart will help you to plan and balance the group's activities to insure a high level on on-going participation from all members.

To insure success, the steering committee should consider that the community's initial impressions of the society will be lasting. It is essential to begin properly. Try to involve top leadership from the beginning. Even though funds will be limited, be sure to aim for the highest standards in all activity.


III. Establishing an Office with Staff

Each society should analyze its own needs. It should be determined if the society should remain an entirely volunteer group or if it is advisable to work toward an office with some professional staff.

If the society intends to employ an Executive Director, keep in mind that a Director helps set the public image of the society, therefore, that selection is of critical importance to the society.

  For more information on membership for Japan-related organizations, please contact:


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