At the end of the 1970’s, there were approximately one thousand Japanese citizens residing in Georgia and some fifty-five Japanese firms located in the state. It was evident that the Japanese presence in Georgia had grown to a substantial size and that the 1980’s, 1990’s, and the decades in the new millennium were likely to be decades of further growth. A study by the Japan Economic Research Center indicated that while Japanese investment in North America was $4.5 billion in 1975, it had grown to $8.5 billion by 1979. Georgia’s experience in the 1970’s and the preliminary evidence of future trends available in the late 1970’s showed that the Japanese economic role and human presence in Georgia’s future would be an important one.
In 1979, a group of Georgians from business and academia came together to form a planning committee for the creation of a Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG), an organization whose object would be to upgrade knowledge of Japanese society, culture, and public affairs among the citizens of Georgia. The organization also aimed to extend hospitality to the more than one thousand Japanese citizens temporarily in residence in Georgia and to make them aware of the history and traditions of Georgia. The planning committee was composed of people with substantial knowledge of Japan and long-term residence in Japan for business or cultural purposes.
They recognized that because of the profound linguistic and cultural differences between American and Japanese, increased contact and interaction would hold not only a promise of mutual benefit but also possibilities for misunderstandings or simply a dearth of meaningful communication. The organization’s mission was to conduct programs and activities to bridge the cultural gap and thereby insure that the Japanese presence in Georgia would be a fully realized opportunity for the state’s growth and development.
The planning committee members – Anne Godsey, Allen Judd, Michael McMullen, and George Waldner – were aided greatly in their efforts by the enthusiastic support of the leadership of the Coca-Cola Company, particularly Ian Wilson, officer in charge of the company’s Pacific operations. This assistance was highly appropriate with the Coca-Cola Company being the leading example of a Georgia-based company to have successfully established itself in Japan - even naming one of its popular brands, "Georgia Coffee."
JASG HISTORY PROJECT