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 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 1999, the National Association of Japan-America Societies celebrated its twentieth anniversary and relocated its headquarters to the nation's capital.
From 2003 to 2004, NAJAS served as Secretariat for the 150th Anniversary of U.S.-Japan relations which commenced with Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan in 1853.
In 2004, NAJAS became the U.S. Administrator for the Keizai Koho Center Teacher Fellowship program.
In 2007, NAJAS became the U.S. Administrator for the High School Diplomats program.
In 2011, NAJAS became the Secretariat for the John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Relations U.S., sponsor of the Japan-America Grassroots Summit program.
Since 2012, NAJAS has offered Japan-related program series to our Japan-America Society members, totaling over 40 programs each year, in cooperation with major Japan-related foundations. The program series cover public affairs, geostrategy, business, security and cultural issues. Please see the PROGRAMS page for details.
In 2019, NAJAS celebrated its fortieth anniversary, with membership reaching 38 Japan-America Societies.