Japan Society (Manhattan)

Last updated
Japan Society
FoundedMay 19, 1907 [1]
Focus Education
Area served
New York, NY
Method Film screenings, Lectures, Symposia, Cultural lectures, Workshops, Art Exhibitions
Key people
Joshua Walker, President and CEO [2]
Ruri Kawashima, Tokyo Representative
$13,565,062 [3]
Endowment $60,458,898 (2015) [4]
Website https://www.japansociety.org

Japan Society is a non-profit organization formed in 1907 to promote friendly relations between the United States and Japan. Its headquarters was designed by Junzo Yoshimura and opened in 1971 at 333 East 47th Street near the United Nations. [5] With a focus on promoting "arts and culture, public policy, business, language, and education", the organization has regularly held events in its many facilities, including a library, art gallery, and theater, since its opening. [6] After suspending all activities during World War II, Japan Society expanded under the leadership of John D. Rockefeller III. [7]




In 1907, Tamemoto Kuroki and Goro Ijuin were chosen to represent Japan at the Jamestown Exposition. They attended a welcome dinner in New York City with Japanese ambassador to the United States, Shuzo Aoki, where there was talk of forming an organization to promote US-Japan relations in the city. Two days later at a luncheon held by Kuroki, Japan Society was born. The organization would be run by Aoki, then Honorary President of the Japan Society of the UK, and John Huston Finley. [7] [8] [9] Japan Society spent the next forty years hosting events in honor of Japanese royalty, giving annual lectures on a wide range of topics, and presenting art exhibits that drew in thousands of New Yorkers. In 1911, Lindsay Russell, another founding member of the society and later president, met with Emperor Meiji and spent his visit to Japan encouraging more societies to form there and throughout the United States. [7]

Japan Society was soon incorporated under New York law and finally found a home near one of Russell's work offices, though it continued to relocate throughout its history before its current headquarters was opened in 1971. At this time, Japan Society and its members began to express interest in improving teaching about Japan in the United States. The organization began sponsoring trips to the country, publishing books, and sent a report to the Department of Education about the portrayal of Japan in American textbooks. [7]

Early years

In 1915, Dr. Takamine Jōkichi, a founding member of the Japan Society and the founder of the Nippon Club, hosted a diplomatic banquet in New York City to honor the visit of Baron Eiichi Shibusawa to the United States. This gathering was attended by Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Also in attendance were many members of the Japan Society, including Japanese Consul-General K. Midzuno, M. Zumoto translator and secretary for Baron Shibusawa, who was also part owner and editor of The Japan Times, the financier Jacob Schiff, and John Huston Finley, president of City College, who was elected Japan Society's first president. During this significant event there were discussions related to strengthening U.S. Japan relations and how best the U.S. and Japan could work together as allies during World War One. [10]

Japan Society remained active during World War I, operating as it had for the last seven years, but the organization became more political when it began associating with the Anti-Alien Legislation Committee, an advocacy group that spoke out against yellow peril. Russell and Hamilton Holt, another founding member, used the organization's publications to defend all of Japan's actions at the time. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, even one of Japan Society's writers secretly worked for the Japanese government with the task of improving Japan's image in the United States. The organization eventually realized the dangers of taking sides and by 1924 stopped publishing any political commentary. [7]

On February 27, 1934, the Japan Society's Annual Dinner event honored the visit of Prince Iyesato Tokugawa. This diplomatic goodwill gathering took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with approximately 250 guests. Attendees included: Reverend James DeWolf Perry, presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States , and great-nephew of Commodore Perry; former Ambassador to Japan Roland S. Morris of Philadelphia; and Henry Waters Taft President of the Japan Society of New York City, who presided over this event. Henry W. Taft was the brother of former President William Howard Taft. [11]

By the 1930s, membership had dropped significantly due to financial difficulties and the Second Sino-Japanese War. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Henry Waters Taft immediately resigned as president after serving from 1922 to 1929 and again from 1934. Russell also stepped down as one of Japan Society's directors. All activities were suspended and would not resume until the Treaty of San Francisco was signed in 1951. [7]

Resumption of activities

Rockefeller, who served as president and chairman from 1953 until his death in 1978, helped expand Japan Society. John D Rockefeller, III.jpg
Rockefeller, who served as president and chairman from 1953 until his death in 1978, helped expand Japan Society.

John D. Rockefeller III served as president from 1952 to 1969 and then as chairman of the board until his death in 1978. He accompanied John Foster Dulles on his trip to Japan that eventually led to the signing of the 1951 treaty. Rockefeller, a supporter of the Institute of Pacific Relations who visited Japan in 1929 during one of its conferences, wanted to contribute to bettering US–Japan relations after the war and believed there needed to be non-governmental organizations like Japan Society in each country in order for such friendly relations to exist. [7]

Under Rockefeller's leadership, Japan Society expanded and talk began to find a permanent headquarters for it. It shared offices with another Rockefeller-led organization, Asia Society, but as the two organizations continued to grow during the 1960s it became increasingly clear that Japan Society needed its own building. After receiving donations from Rockefeller and other members, construction began on "Japan House" in 1967. Designed by Junzo Yoshimura, whose work also includes Asia Society's headquarters, it became the first building in New York of contemporary Japanese architecture. On September 13, 1971, it was finally opened to the public after a ceremony attended by Prince Hitachi. He echoed Russell's first words about Japan Society, calling for "closer people-to-people" contact between the countries. [7] [12] In 1970, Rockefeller was succeeded by Japan-born lawyer Isaac Shapiro, who served as president until 1977. [13]

In 2021, to commemorate both the 50th anniversary of the current headquarters' initiation and the tenth anniversary of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Japan Society held an exhibition of traditional Japanese carpentry. [14] [15]

See also


  1. Auslin, Michael R.; Edwin O. Reischauer (2007). "Japan Society: Celebrating a Century (1907-2007)" (PDF). Japan Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  2. Japan Society (2019). "Dr. Joshua W. Walker Named Japan Society President and CEO". Japan Society. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  3. "Japan Society Annual Report 2012–13" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  4. "Japan Society Annual Report 2014-15" (PDF). p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  5. Gootman, Elissa. "Four New Landmarks Include City's Youngest". City Room. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  6. "Mission Statement & Overview". Japan Society. Japan Society. Archived from the original on 2016-11-17. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Auslin, Michael R. (2007). "Brief History". New York, NY: Japan Society. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011.
  8. "Japan Society Born at Kuroki's Party". The New York Times. 1907-05-20. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  9. "Nations Join Hands at Kuroki Dinner". The New York Times. 1907-05-18. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  10. "1915 – William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt attend a banquet honoring the visit of Baron Shibusawa Eiichi. This diplomatic event is linked to the early history of the Japan Society of New York City". TheEmperorAndTheSpy.com. 2020.
  11. "The Japan Society of New York City Honors the Visit of Prince Iyesato Tokugawa – 1934 Photo". TheEmperorAndTheSpy.com. 2020.
  12. "Japan House Here Opens with a Call for More Contact". The New York Times. 1971-09-14. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  13. "An expert on Japanese affairs told a House panel..." UPI. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  14. Tucker, Ethan (15 March 2021). "An Exhibition Celebrates 50 Years of the Japan Society Building and Centuries of Craftsmanship". Metropolis . Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  15. Levere, Jane (26 March 2021). "Japanese Carpentry Tools Have Never Been So Worthy of Your Attention". Architectural Digest . Retrieved 2021-06-26.

40°45′9″N73°58′6″W / 40.75250°N 73.96833°W / 40.75250; -73.96833

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Takamine Jōkichi</span> Japanese chemist

Takamine Jōkichi was a Japanese chemist. He is known for being the first to isolate epinephrine in 1901.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John D. Rockefeller Jr.</span> American financier and philanthropist (1874–1960)

John Davison Rockefeller Jr. was an American financier and philanthropist. Rockefeller was the fifth child and only son of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. He was involved in the development of the vast office complex in Midtown Manhattan known as Rockefeller Center, making him one of the largest real estate holders in the city. Towards the end of his life, he was famous for his philanthropy, donating over $500 million to a wide variety of different causes, including educational establishments. Among his projects was the reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. He was widely blamed for having orchestrated the Ludlow Massacre and other offenses during the Colorado Coalfield War. Rockefeller was the father of six children: Abby, John III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop, and David.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John D. Rockefeller III</span> American philanthropist (1906–1978)

John Davison Rockefeller III was an American philanthropist. Rockefeller was the eldest son and second child of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller as well as a grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. He was engaged in a wide range of philanthropic projects, many of which his family had launched, as well as supporting organizations related to East Asian affairs. Rockefeller was also a major supporter of the Population Council, and the committee that created the Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Panic of 1907</span> Three-week financial crisis in the United States

The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic or Knickerbocker Crisis, was a financial crisis that took place in the United States over a three-week period starting in mid-October, when the New York Stock Exchange suddenly fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. The panic occurred during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs affecting banks and trust companies. The 1907 panic eventually spread throughout the nation when many state and local banks and businesses entered bankruptcy. The primary causes of the run included a retraction of market liquidity by a number of New York City banks and a loss of confidence among depositors, exacerbated by unregulated side bets at bucket shops.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George von Lengerke Meyer</span> American politician (1858–1918)

George von Lengerke Meyer was a Massachusetts businessman and politician who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, as United States ambassador to Italy and Russia, as United States Postmaster General from 1907 to 1909 during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and United States Secretary of the Navy from 1909 to 1913 during the administration of President William Howard Taft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States Chamber of Commerce</span> Lobbying group

The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is a business association advocacy group. It is the largest lobbying group in the United States. The group was founded in April 1912 out of local chambers of commerce at the urging of President William Howard Taft and his Secretary of Commerce and Labor Charles Nagel. It was Taft's belief that the "government needed to deal with a group that could speak with authority for the interests of business".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Cherry Blossom Festival</span> Annual spring festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C. Ozaki gave the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. Large and colorful helium balloons, floats, marching bands from across the country, music and showmanship are parts of the Festival's parade and other events.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shibusawa Eiichi</span> Japanese politician

Shibusawa Eiichi, 1st Viscount Shibusawa was a Japanese industrialist widely known today as the "father of Japanese capitalism", having introduced Western capitalism to Japan after the Meiji Restoration. He introduced many economic reforms including use of double-entry accounting, joint-stock corporations and modern note-issuing banks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japan–United States relations</span> Bilateral relations

International relations between Japan and the United States began in the late 18th and early 19th century with the diplomatic but force-backed missions of U.S. ship captains James Glynn and Matthew C. Perry to the Tokugawa shogunate. Following the Meiji Restoration, the countries maintained relatively cordial relations. Potential disputes were resolved. Japan acknowledged American control of Hawaii and the Philippines, and the United States reciprocated regarding Korea. Disagreements about Japanese immigration to the U.S. were resolved in 1907. The two were allies against Germany in World War I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Asia Society</span> Non-profit organization based in New York City

The Asia Society is a 501(c) organization that focuses on educating the world about Asia. It has several centers in the United States and around the world. These centers are overseen by the Society's headquarters in New York City, which includes a museum that exhibits the Rockefeller collection of Asian art and rotating exhibits with pieces from many countries in Asia and Oceania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Commission on Industrial Relations</span> 1912 US Congressional commission

The Commission on Industrial Relations was a commission created by the U.S. Congress on August 23, 1912, to scrutinize US labor law. The commission studied work conditions throughout the industrial United States between 1913 and 1915. The final report of the Commission, published in eleven volumes in 1916, contain tens of thousands of pages of testimony from a wide range of witnesses, including Clarence Darrow, Louis Brandeis, Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, Theodore Schroeder, William "Big Bill" Haywood, scores of ordinary workers, and the titans of capitalism, including Daniel Guggenheim, George Walbridge Perkins Sr., Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peggy Dulany</span> American philanthropist

Margaret Dulany "Peggy" Rockefeller is an American heiress and philanthropist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokugawa Iesato</span> Japanese politician (1863–1940)

Prince Tokugawa Iesato was the first head of the Tokugawa clan after the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate, and a significant figure in Japanese politics and diplomacy during the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa period Japan. When Prince Tokugawa travelled to other nations representing Japan during his diplomatic journeys, he usually presented his name as Prince Iyesato Tokugawa. Prince Tokugawa held the influential position of president of Japan's upper house of congress the Diet for 30 years. Tokugawa promoted democratic principles and international goodwill. It was only after his death in 1940 that Japanese militants were able to push Japan into joining the Axis Powers in WWII.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Waters Taft</span> American lawyer

Henry Waters Taft was an American lawyer and writer. He was the son of Alphonso and brother of President William Howard Taft. A renowned antitrust lawyer, he was a name partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dan Takuma</span>

Baron Dan Takuma was a Japanese businessman who was Director-General of Mitsui, one of the leading Japanese zaibatsu. He was a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was married to the younger sister of statesman Kaneko Kentarō.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank A. Vanderlip</span> American journalist (1864–1937)

Frank Arthur Vanderlip Sr. was an American banker and journalist. He was president of the National City Bank of New York from 1909 to 1919, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1897 to 1901. Vanderlip is known for his part in founding the Federal Reserve System and for founding the first Montessori school in the United States, the Scarborough School and the group of communities in Palos Verdes, California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nippon Club (Manhattan)</span> Private social club in New York City

The Nippon Club of New York City is a private social club on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, founded in 1905 by Jōkichi Takamine for Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals. The only Japanese traditional gentlemen's club in the United States, the Nippon Club's dual purpose is to help enhance the unity of the Japanese community in New York City and to help develop evolving relationships with the American people. Over the course of its first century, the Nippon Club has fostered ongoing business and cultural relationships through various events, workshops, cultural classes and athletic events.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinda Sutemi</span> Japanese diplomat (1857–1929)

Count Chinda Sutemi was a Japanese diplomat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shofuso Japanese House and Garden</span> Traditional Japanese garden in Philadelphia, U.S.

Shofuso (Pine Breeze Villa), (Japanese: 松風荘) also known as Japanese House and Garden, is a traditional 17th century-style Japanese house and garden located in Philadelphia's West Fairmount Park on the site of the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Shofuso is a nonprofit historic site with over 30,000 visitors each year and is open to the public for visitation and group tours.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Garden Club of America</span>

The Garden Club of America is a nonprofit organization made up of around 18,000 club members and 200 local garden clubs around the United States. Founded in 1913, by Elizabeth Price Martin and Ernestine Abercrombie Goodman, it promotes the recording and enjoyment of American gardens as well as conservation and horticulture.