The JASG Newsletter is a quarterly publication which seeks to promote business, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding between Japan and Georgia. The newsletter is circulated among the more than 800 Society members and community partners. Please send suggestions about articles or articles you might want to contribute to The most current newsletter is below. Other archived newsletters in pdf format are at the bottom of the page. To advertise your goods or services, please contact

Japan-America Society of Georgia


Spring 2020 Newsletter

The Japan-America Society

Celebrates 40 Years

Japan and Georgia


     Georgia-Japan relations date back to when Commodore Matthew C. Perry initiated U.S. diplomatic contact with Japan in 1853 as the future adjunct general of the state of Georgia, John McIntoch Kell, was part of Perry's expedition.

     However, it was not until the 1960’s and 1970’s that Georgia began to develop as a major focal point of U.S.-Japan relations. Governor Carl Sanders along with Governor Katsushi Terazono of Kagoshima Prefecture established a sister state-prefecture relationship in 1966 which paved the way for regular visits of Georgians to Japan and Japanese to Georgia. As the transportation hub of the southeast, the Atlanta area became a key location for warehouse, distribution, and sales offices for Japanese firms, just as it is for U.S. companies. As Japanese firms experienced growth in their U.S. markets and began to require U.S. manufacturing facilities, Georgia again became a leading location for investments due to Georgia’s skilled, highly motivated work force, access to transportation, availability of raw materials and energy, and low land costs.

     Japanese firms, however, did not focus on Georgia without a substantial nudge by then Governor Jimmy Carter. Georgia opened a trade and investment development office in Tokyo in 1973 to publicize Georgia's advantages to potential investors. Governor Carter also persuaded the Japanese government to locate a Consulate in Atlanta. Consul General Kazuo Chiba arrived in 1974. Since 1974, over 600 Japanese-affiliated firms have invested in Georgia.

     Governor George Busbee extended the Carter achievements. Most notably, he took the lead along with Consul General Chiba in founding the U.S. Southeast-Japan Association in 1975. The Association brings top private and public sector leaders from seven southeastern states into contact with nationally prominent Japanese business and industry leaders for annual meetings alternating between Japan and each of the seven states.

     Transitions and growth was also evident in the efforts of Georgians to develop the relationship. The Georgia Ports Authority established a representative office in Japan in 1976. A number of Georgia communities began or strengthened sister city linkages with communities in Japan. In the education area, student and faculty exchanges were inaugurated between Kagoshima University and the University of Georgia. 1980 marked the establishment of the Japan-America Society of Georgia. (To be continued in the JASG Summer Newsletter.)

Message from the Chair

  •      During this time of trade, coronavirus and other global issues, the Japan America Society of Georgia is more important than ever. The JASGMission is to promote mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the State of Georgia through establishing and promoting ties and programs in the areas of business, culture, customs, education, commerce, politics, and social networking. It is the place where Japanese citizens come to learn about Americans, and Americans come to learn about the Japanese. 

        How does this translate into results? We are providing robust programs to promote Georgia-Japan relations. The trade focus for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reinforced the benefits of good public policy, marketing and participation by communities across Georgia. 

        The JASG staff works across the spectrum along with volunteers to deliver education, contacts with business opportunities for members, unique cross cultural relationships and more. Every day JASG is planning and executing work for members, with a statewide impact. 

         Today Japan is the Number One country with facilities and employment in Georgia. How does this happen? The good public policy of our State by Governor Kemp and the General Assembly, effective marketing by the Department of Economic Development, community improvement by Department of Community Affairs, quality education and professional work by communities all contribute to strong results. 

         The recent establishment of the Georgia Japan Caucus is an important statement for recognition of our mutual interests and the projection of future growth. 

         Since August: 

    --Arglass Yamamura is building a glass container manufacturing plant with 150 jobs and $123 million in Valdosta
    --Matsui Kinzoku Diecasting Technology is building in Griffin with 30 jobs and $20 million;
    --Nippon Light Metals has announced 110 jobs and $50 million for its aluminum automotive parts manufacturing plant in Adairsville;
    --Toyota Financial Services is establishing the East Coast Dealer Service Center with 150 jobs in Alpharetta.
    We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events – check out our online calendar and plan to attend. Lets keep the Mo going!

Al Hodge

JASG Chair

President & CEO

Hodge Consulting Services

Jessica Cork Appointed JASG Vice Chair

    Congratulations to Jessica Cork for being appointed as the JASG Vice Chair. Jessica is the Vice President of Community Engagement and Communications at YKK Corporation of America, where her responsibilities are managing government relations, public relations, and internal and external communications for YKK’s North and Central America Group. 

     She has B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Massachusetts, and an M.A. in Advanced Japanese Studies from the University of Sheffield in the U.K. Prior to joining YKK, she worked as the Adviser for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta and spent 3 years as International Relations Coordinator in Hiroshima, Japan. 

     In addition to serving on the board of The Japan-America Society of Georgia, she is Secretary of the Governing Board of International Charter Academy of Georgia, the state's only Japanese-English dual immersion charter school. She has four children, all of whom have attended Japanese-English bilingual immersion schools in the Atlanta area and has traveled to 25 countries around the world.

Upcoming Events and Programs

Due to the U.S., State of Georgia, and City of Atlanta government as well as the Center of Disease Control guidelines surrounding coronavirus, JASG does not feel comfortable proceeding with our full menu of programs. We will keep our members updated in timely emails and other announcements as well as attempting to keep our website up-to-date. We hope you and yours are safe and remaining healthy during this chaotic period.

In particular:

  • Manufacturing & Sustainability – postponed until Fall 2020
  • Macon Cherry Blossom Festival – cancelled 
  • SAUPO – postponed TBD
  • US-JPN FX Seminar – postponed TBD
  • JPN Art Curator Program – TBD

JapanFest 2020

At the last JapanFest meeting, it was decided to continue making plans for JapanFest 2020. It is scheduled for September 26 and 27 at the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett. The JapanFest Committee will continue to actively monitor the situation and take all reasonable and precautionary measures. Please contact the JASG office and continue to check the JapanFest website ( for any updates. 

If you have questions, please call the JASG office at 404-842-1400 or email

From Global Atlanta

Corporate Sustainability: Fad or Fundamental? YKK’s Georgia Experience

‘Cycle of Goodness’ drives investing in people and planet, not just profits

     The Business Roundtable, America’s most influential group of corporate leaders, made headlines last August when it redefined the purpose of corporations, saying they should exist not only to profit shareholders but also to benefit all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, customers and communities.

     This ‘radically different’ statement got quite a bit of press coverage, but at YKK, our question is: “What took so long?” For the past 85 years, we have been guided by our founder Tadao Yoshida’s philosophy that “No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.” We call this the Cycle of Goodness.

     Rather than simply making money, YKK’s goal has always been to use our ingenuity to create new value for our customers, which will lead to theirsuccess and allow us to reinvest in our employees, our company, and the local community. Since becoming one of the first Japanese firms to invest in Georgia in the 1970s, we have put our money where our moth is, as it were.

     To read the rest of Jim Reed, the president of YKK Corp of America’s comments and other articles about Japan, please access Global Atlanta’s Japan page:


  • Dear JASG Members & Friends:

    We hope this message finds you well and keeping safe and healthy. With all the uncertainties surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the JASG will be canceling or postponing our programs in March. We will be reassessing the situation in April but we feel that reducing our activities will alleviate the public’s increasing concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus.

    For specific information about the Coronavirus and prevention tips, we refer you to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).In the meantime, we encourage you to continue taking the same measures that are urged to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus at home.

      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer;
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
      • Stay at home when you are sick;
      • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash;
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Please note that the work by our professional staff including supporting needs of our members, study abroad students, host/friendship families, and ensuring our ability to offer business, cultural, educational, and social exchanges continues. We will monitor the situation both in Japan and here in the U.S., and certainly keep you posted regarding any new information.

Thank you very much for your continued support, and please do not hesitate to let us now if you have any questions and/or concerns about anything. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by the Coronavirus, and we hope all of our concerns subside in the very near future. Please stay safe and best wishes to you and your family.



新型コロナウイルス感染症に関する情報や予防策につきましては、こちらのCenter for Disease Control (CDC) website(米国疾病対策センター)のウェブサイトをご覧ください。また日本側のサイトは、政府お役立ち情報(首相官邸ウェブサイト)がこちらに一覧の形でまとまっています。ぜひご活用ください。










The 2020 Census counts all adults, infants, and children living in the United States. Counting is performed every ten years by the United States Census Bureau, a government agency. The census provides important data that shapes various aspects of people's lives. Many lawmakers, executives, teachers, and others use this data on a daily basis to provide support for services, products, and the community. Each year, billions of dollars of federal budget are invested in hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and more, based on census data. The results of the census serve as a basis for Congressional Representation for each state and are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect responses and to be strictly confidential. All staff are oath-bound to protect personal information for a lifetime. Pursuant to Title 13 of the United States Code, the Census Bureau cannot disclose any information that identifies respondents, respondents' homes, or companies, even for law enforcement agencies. Laws provide that the personal data you provide is protected and is not used by government agencies or courts as evidence against you.

In May 2020, the census will begin a door-to-door visit for households who have not responded to the 2020 census. This is to ensure that counting is not missed. If you have any questions about how to respond to the 2020 census, support is available. Complete the 2020 Census online using the video guide, or fill out the paper questionnaire using the printed guide at  To call or respond to the 2020 census, call 844-460-2020, available in Japanese.





The 2020 Asia-Pacific Children’s Convention

     The 32ndAsia-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) will take place from July 12thto July 25th, 2020. Every year, Atlanta is invited to send four children, two girls and two boys, to represent Atlanta as Junior Ambassadors (JAs) at this extraordinary event. The mission of the APCC is to foster “Global Citizens” who can think of the world beyond national boundaries and desire world peace to be achieved. 

     Because of the Olympics to be held in Tokyo this year, the timing of the selection process and training is about a month earlier than usual. Applications from prospective Junior Ambassadors were due in December. On January 26th, the JASG APCC selection committee held a Mixer event to select the JAs from among the nine finalists. The four children chosen this year are Chloe Bremer, Isalyn Calleroz White, Sam Skinner, and Davis Marschke. This is a great group of young people! 

     Over the next several months, the children will be preparing for their trip with monthly training and planning sessions. The first meeting was held on Sunday, February 23rd,where we reviewed the necessary information about the trip, answered many questions from the parents and children and got to know each other better. The children were also tasked with coming up with ideas for their APCC performance. Everyone, children, and parents are excited about participating. 

     One question that some of the parents had was related to the recent pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the safety of their children. I assured the parents that the APCC takes all of the participants’ safety very seriously. I witnessed the measures to keep everyone healthy during my time with the 2019 convention. Temperatures were taken daily, before and even during our stay in Japan, and quarantine measures were taken if anyone displayed any sign of sickness. That being said, in the past, the APCC has canceled the convention with the outbreak of SARS. While this year’s trip may be in jeopardy, we are moving forward with our training and planning in hopes that this global event dies down in time for the convention.

Bridge Club Atlanta News

     The Bridge Club is the organization that the returning APCC Junior Ambassadors, Peace Ambassadors, and Chaperones participate in to continue the mission of the APCC. Bridge Club Atlanta President, and 2019 Peace Ambassador, Sam Katz was selected by the BCIO (Bridge Club International Organization) as a BC Work Group Coordinator in January 2020. The BC Work Group Coordinators will work together with the BCIO management, advising individual Bridge Clubs, and maintaining strong communication channels between the BCIO management and all Bridge Clubs.

     Every year, the Bridge Clubs around the world are given a common activity to complete during the Bridge Club year. The Bridge Clubs are expected to complete the common activity to be considered “active status.” This year, our Common Activity is called Link by Link, and the goal is to connect with our Bridge Club friends throughout the world (either in person or online) and sharing the story of our “meeting” online. Some of the members of Bridge Club Atlanta have been busy with this activity. You can see the activity by visiting:

     Our Bridge Club is planning on a fundraiser for our friends in Australia suffering from the wildfires. We will be selling a t-shirt (designed by one of our members), and 100% of the profits will be sent to the Australian non-profit, Wires ( Bridge Club Atlanta plans to promote the APCC on a larger scale by manning our own booth with a slideshow at the 2020 JapanFest in September. Please come visit us!   


     Through the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) and the Embassy of Japan’s Japan Currents Series, the Japan-America Society of Georgia presented U.S.-Japan Now: Impacts of Trade Partnership on March 2 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Nearly 120 people attended the event featuring two esteemed keynote speakers: Motoshige Itoh from Gakushuin University and Eric Reinhardt from Emory University.

     To start the program, JASG Chair Al Hodge and Deputy Consul General Yutaka Nakamura affirmed the benefits U.S.-Japan trade on the state of Georgia where over 600 Japanese-affiliated companies employ nearly 36,000 people. During his presentation, Emory’s Dr. Reinhardt shared the history, current trends, and future outlook of global trade from Japanese and US perspectives. US-Japan trade has been deeply linked in the global value chain and source of mutual prosperity. While top US goods exported to Japan include machinery/transport equipment, chemicals, food/live animals, and fuel, top goods imported to the U.S. are mostly machinery/transport equipment, manufactured goods and articles. An example that particularly resonated with the audience was a case study of Apple’s iPhone 11. Although assembled in China, most of its components are sourced in Japan (including Sony cameras, Japan Display LCDs, Toshiba flash memories, Seiko Advanced inks, Murata Electronics Wifi/BTs). Dr. Reinhardt also disclosed how industrial locations are affected. He explained how the Honda’s decision to open a manufacturing facility influenced Alabama’s Talladega County where the county average median household income increased by 135%. The traditional sense of global trade has changed since 2016 in the U.S. where globalization and trade partnerships had been regarded as positive economic mechanisms, but now are somewhat clouded with the ongoing US-China trade war and America’s abandonment of trade norms and standards. 

     The program’s second speaker, Gakushuin’s Dr. Motoshige Itoh, explained the impact of trade partnerships in Japan and the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP was Japan’s first EPA/FTA negotiation involving the US, its most important trade partner, and it was a catalyst for changing the agricultural protection of its famers. While the U.S. exit from TPP was a major blow to Japan, it was still able to continue other EP/FTA negotiations with the US and continue the trade partnership without the U.S. in the region. Even without the TPP, Japan reduced its tariffs to US producers of major products such as beef, pork and wine. Japan continues its negotiation of tariff rates for Japanese automakers; however, with the tariff increase imposing negative impacts on Japan’s exports, Japanese manufacturing companies will need to continue to make more commitments in production in the U.S. Moreover, Dr. Itoh’s bicycle theory of continuing trade negation shows it more important than ever as it helps mobilize domestic producers, promotes deeper integration in other trade opportunities and develops foundations for new global trading rules. 

     The JASG thanks generous support from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, National Association of Japan-America Societies, and the Embassy of Japan, for making this event possible.

  • Annual Japan Academic Challenge & Japanese Language Speech Contest 

    At Mercer University on March 7, 2020, nearly 100 high school and college students from all across the Southeast studying the Japanese language gathered for the 2020 Annual Japanese Academic Challenge & Speech Contest, sponsored by Temple University Japan Campus and the Japan Foundation, and co-organized by The Japan-America Society of Georgia, The Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, and The Georgia Association of Teachers of Japanese. 

    The Japan Academic Challenge is an annual quiz bowl-style competition that tests students' knowledge of Japanese culture, grammar, and language. The Challenge has four different levels: Level I is reserved for students currently in their first year of Japanese studies; Level for second year students; Level III for third year students, and Level IV for fourth year students. This year, a total of 14 teams from Milton High School, Riverwood International Charter School, Columbus High School, and Roswell High School competed in the Japan Academic Challenge. The results are as follows:

    • Riverwood International Charter High School A received first place for the Level 1 competition. The second-place award went to Milton High SchoolRiverwood International Charter High School B came in third place;
    • Milton High School B finished in first place for the Level II competition. Second place went to Milton High School A. Third place was awarded to Riverwood International Charter High School A;
    • Milton High School A received first in the Level III competition. Second place went to Milton High School B.;
    • At Level IV, first place went to Milton High School, second place to Roswell High School A, and third place to Roswell High School B.
  • At the same time as the Japan Academic Challenge, 28 college and high school students competed in the Annual Japanese Speech Contest.  In the contest, each participant presented a 4-minute memorized speech entirely in Japanese. Following their speech, each participant was interviewed by one of the judges in Japanese for one minute. 

    • In Category 1, Evy Shen from Statesboro High School took home first place while the Ganbatta award for Category 1 was presented to Renee Al-Noubani from Riverwood International Charter School
    • In Category 2, Jonathan Lomas from the University of North Georgia was awarded first place, Ingle Nicolas of Emory University second place, and Kyle Lewis of Georgia Southern University third place. The Ganbatta Award went to Phillip Ly of the University of North Georgia.
    • In Category 3, Cursten Howard of the University of North Georgia was awarded the grand prize, Edward Pearson of the University of North Georgia second place, and Tianyi Yang of the University of Georgia third place. The Ganbatta award went to former JASG intern Eboni Goar of the University of Georgia.
    • In Category 4, Joshua Lundregan of the Georgia Institute of Technology was awarded first place). The Ganbatta Award was awarded to Zayn Deandrade of Clemson University.

The Japan-America Society of Georgia would like to express gratitude for the gracious support from event sponsors, Mercer University,Temple University Japan Campus and the Japan Foundation, and co-organizers, Georgia Association of Teacher of Japanese and The Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia. Special thanks also goes to The Japan-America Society of Washington D.C.andthe Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta.

JASG Company Tour

Hitachi Automative Systems of America

     On Friday, February 21, 2020, the Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG) held a facility tour at the Hitachi Automotive Systems of America in Monroe, GA. Hitachi is a Tier 1 supplier of world-class products to the global automotive market. In other words, it is a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer that produces and markets engine management, electric power, train, drive control, and information systems for automotive companies such as Honda and Ford. In addition to opening this event to our members, this tour is one of the events included in Obirin University’s Spring 2020 two-week Global Business Program, so six Japanese university students and their professor were also in attendance. The day’s events included a presentation, tour, lunch and a Q&A session. 

    Before touring the facilities, participants watched a slideshow given by Yuka Katsumori, Senior Manager of Administration & Executive Support at Hitachi. Hitachi was founded in 1910 as a machine repair shop at Kuhara Mining Company in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The founder was Namihei Odaira. While its founding values are harmony, sincerity and pioneering spirit, its mission is,

‘To contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology, and products.’ Both the mission and values are based on its vision to deliver innovations that answer society’s challenges. Hitachi’s history in the U.S. dates back to 1926 when they first exported 30 electric fans. It was established as a regional subsidiary in 1959 and the first manufacturing plant opened in the U.S. in 1977. In Georgia, Hitachi has five smaller branches that handle business such as consulting and machinery. Hitachi has a total of 1,040 employees in Georgia. 

     The tour of the facilities followed the presentation. A separate tour was given in Japanese to the Obirin students by Hitachi’s plant manager, Tsuyoshi Ariishi. Participants were able to visit all three buildings on the Monroe campus. Within these buildings, participants saw parts being produced on assembly lines, various screens depicting production numbers in both the domestic & international plants and a learning center where new employees go to study the various automotive parts and overall safety procedures. 

     After the tour, participants enjoyed lunch from Panera Bread when they could ask further questions about Hitachi. One asked why Hitachi came to Monroe and not some other Georgia city. Ms. Katsumori explained that Hitachi received a financial incentive by the City of Monroe to build the plant there and taxes are low there since it is not a major city. Also the site is close to I-20. Afterwards, the participants took a group photo and were given free umbrellas to take home. We want to thank those at Hitachi for the informational presentation and facility tour. We look forward to working with them in the future!

Bonnenkai 2019 A Resounding Success!

On Thursday, December 12, 2019, the Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG) hosted its 39th annual Bonnenkai Holiday Celebration Gala at the Piedmont Driving Club in midtown Atlanta. Bonnenkai (忘年会), in Japanese company culture, is an event that occurs at the end of every calendar year in which company employees go to a restaurant together to reflect on and then forget about the year’s events while enjoying delicious food and drink. In JASG’s case, we hold an evening gala for our members where they enjoy delicious food in a large ballroom, listen to different performances from various musical guests and partake in other activities. 

Shortly after guests were received by the JASG staff, they were able to participate in a silent auction through which they bidded on luxury items such as roundtrip Delta flight tickets to Japan and a washlet from TOTO USA. The before dinner performance was a medley of Christmas songs sung in Japanese by the student chorus of the International Charter Academy of Georgia (ICA). During the event itself, guests played a Maru Batsu trivia game, specifically, a true-or-false question game based on Japanese companies, Japanese culture and the like. The dinner itself was as follows: the first course consisted of a bibb lettuce salad with fresh citrus sections, toasted walnuts, and strawberries topped by a honey poppy seed dressing. The second course was a seared beef tenderloin filet with skuna bay salmon, yukon gold potato puree, roasted baby carrots, jumbo asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and a side of chardonnay thyme butter. Finally, for dessert was a bittersweet chocolate mousse topped with a red wine cherry. The after dinner concert was given by the Madoka Oshima Trio, a jazz trio based in Atlanta made up of Japanese pianist Madoka Oshima, bassist Craig Shaw and drummer Kwame Gooden. Just before the gala’s closing remarks, results of a door prize drawing were announced. Various people made appearances on stage that evening, including Consul-General of Japan Kazuyuki Takeuchi, who gave a before dinner toast, JASG chairman Albert Hodge, two of JASG’s board members Jessica Cork and Nozomi Morgan, as well as executive director Yoshi Domoto.

As with every major event that the JASG does, Bonnenkai would not have been possible without our sponsors. We would like to thank our airline sponsor, Delta Air Lines; benefactor sponsors Murata Electronics, Sapporo Premium Beer, Baker Donelson, Barnes & Thornburg LLP; partner sponsors All Nippon Airlines, Finnegan, Fallon Benefits Group, Griffin-Spalding Development Authority; and our supporter sponsors, Arco Design/Build and YKK Corporation of America. We also would like to thank the following for their generous contributions: Robert Banta, Aflac, Delta Air Lines, TOTO USA, YKK, Ernst & Young, Everlands Sutherland, Kilpatrick Townsend, Toyo Tire and Masako Winkler. Thanks to the ICA student chorus and the Madoka Oshima Trio for their wonderful performances and finally, much appreciation goes out to the Piedmont Driving Club staff and the JASG’s staff, interns and volunteers. Thank you to all in attendance and we hope to see you at the 2020 Bonnenkai!

Winter 2019-2020 JASG Highlights

Obirin University Global Business Program

February 11-22

Leveraging AI Breakfast

February 11

New Year Omakase Luncheon

January 25

Ashford Park Elementary School International Night


Nihongo-Eigo Kai

Educating the Next Generation of Global Citizens in Georgia

International Charter Academy of Georgia builds bridges between Japan and Georgia

It’s fitting that a state with cultural and economic ties to Japan dating back 50 years is now home to a school where children from those two cultures can study alongside one another to become global citizens.

International Charter Academy of Georgia (ICAGeorgia), the state’s first Japanese-English dual language immersion school, opened its doors in fall 2018. The school is a statewide charter school free of charge for any K-5 student residing in Georgia. ICAGeorgia uses the dual language model to provide both Japanese and English instruction. In early grades, more class time is dedicated to Japanese, while later grades balance instruction between both languages. The Georgia State standards and Japanese Ministry of Education curriculum in Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Physical Education are taught in both Japanese and English. Specifically, kindergarteners are immersed in Japanese 80% of the time and English instruction 20%. Grades 1 and 2 are 60% in Japanese to 40% in English. Grades 3, 4 and 5 are 50% to 50%. 

Teachers are native speakers of the languages they teach, working hard to ensure that students attain a high level of language proficiency in both languages. Additionally, English and Japanese core content, ESOL, and JSOL teachers collaborate in team meetings and professional development to improve instruction, increase student achievement and ensure the success of both native and non-native Japanese and English learners. Overall, teachers help students transfer what they know in one language to acquire and refine their proficiency in the new language.

ICAGeorgia students experience elements of Japanese culture and school life including ethics, student leadership, shigyoshiki(First Day of School Ceremony), mochitsuki(rice pounding), kakizome(New Year calligraphy), tea ceremony, haiku, and so on. Students also learn about other cultures, as30% of students are Asian, 26% African-American, 6% Hispanic, 26% multi-racial, and 10% white. Students represent over 20 countries and speak nearly as many languages.

Principal Tara Ranzy describes ICAGeorgia as “a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-linguistic community working together to promote world peace through mutual respect of both Japanese and American cultures and languages.” During a recent Monday morning assembly, she asked students to look around to observe the incredible diversity: “We have different skin color and hair texture; we see boys, girls, women, and men; we are different shapes and sizes. Some of us speak Japanese, English, Spanish, French, Korean, Mandarin, and Arabic. Our parents were born in Bulgaria, China, Haiti, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the U.S.” She asked, “Are you taking advantage of the opportunity to respect each other, work together, and learn from one another? At our school, success is not only earning good grades; success is also your ability to work with people who are different." Then she challenged the community to have lunch with someone different from themselves, with different color skin, hair texture, shape or size.

At ICAGeorgia, world peace is promoted through day-to-day interactions showing care and consideration. ICAGeorgia Founder and Governing Board President/Chair Minako Ahearn comments, “We must learn to help each other because the world is interconnected. Every day we find that our local news is no longer local, but global.

The service learning activities are a first step toward the children learning to serve not only locally, but also globally. Children and adults both find it hard to think beyond our immediate crisis and suffering. That is why I frequently pose the question to the children: ‘What do you want to see 100 years from now?”  I like to quote from Hyaku-nen-go no furusato o mamoru(Protect your hometown 100 years from now), a true story that appears in a Japanese textbook. In the 1800s, a man saved many lives from a large earthquake and tsunami, and then led his community to plan against future tsunamis. We challenge our students to imagine 100 years ahead and serve globally.”

According to midyear survey data, ICAGeorgia families and staff love the “family feel, innovation, strong PTO, diversity, and warmth of the teachers and faculty.” When asked, “What do you love about ICAGeorgia?” students replied, “The teachers are gentle, nice, hard-working and easy to understand.” They also described the environment as “peaceful.” One child said, “I like how everyone is one big community in peace.” Another stated, “I think our school is special.”

Vice Chair of the ICAGeorgia Board, Robert Johnson, agrees that ICAGeorgia is a special place. “The diverse student body of ICAGeorgia is truly a reflection of Japan’s profound economic, social and cultural influence in Georgia and around the globe. The miracle of ICAGeorgia today is that as a public charter school, we now can offer to more children of Georgia citizens the unique opportunity to study and learn Japanese, which is one of the most beautiful languages in the world and the key to the heart and soul of Japan!” Board Secretary Jessica Cork agrees. “I have chosen to send my children to ICAGeorgia not only because I want to share with them my love for the Japanese language and the culture of Japan, but also because I want them to understand that the world is an incredibly diverse place, made more wonderful because of its amazing variety. I know that ICAGeorgia is preparing my children to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, co-exist peacefully with those who differ from them, and work effectively in an increasingly interconnected world.” 

The choice of Georgia for a school like ICA Georgia is obvious given Georgia's economic ties with Japan. Japanese manufacturers began operations in Georgia in the early 1970s under the leadership of then-Governor Jimmy Carter. Official relations were inaugurated in 1973 with the establishment of a Georgia State Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism office in Tokyo, the first office for any U.S. state. The opening of the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta in April 1974 offered a major boost to bilateral political relations. Today, with over 600 Japanese companies operating in the state, Georgia is regarded as the center of Japanese industry in the Southeast. Japanese-affiliated companies have invested $10.4 billion in Georgia and employ nearly 37,000 Georgians. Some major Japanese firms with Georgia operations include Kubota, Murata, Panasonic, Ricoh, TOTO, Tomo Tire, Yamaha, and YKK. Georgia imports from Japan amount to over $4 billion, making tJapan the 5th largest international importer, and Georgia's exports to Japan amounted to over $1 billion, making Japan the 6th largest export market. Over 50 Georgia companies operate in Japan including Aflac, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, NCR, Newell Rubbermaid, and UPS.

Japanese is a valuable language for study given the opportunities afforded by these ties. Recent studies reveal that foreign language instruction is rare in U.S. elementary schools, and only 15% of high school students study a language other than English. This is quite different in other countries, where studying a second language is the norm. In Georgia, foreign language study is also limited, and yet is crucial for the U.S. to increase its influence and strengthen its economic position abroad. Americans who communicate in more than one language can gain personal, educational, and professional advantages. Preparing students for such opportunities is a major objective of the ICAGeorgia Language Immersion Program. Moreover, research has shown the benefits of dual language immersion education. Lindholm-Leary (Dual Language Education, 2001) found students who speak two languages often have more mental flexibility, superiority in concept formation, and a more diversified set of mental abilities. 

The establishment of ICA Georgia is further recognition of the strong partnership between Georgia and Japan and the importance of raising the next generation of leaders who can sustain and build that relationship in the 21stcentury. For further details about the school, visit

Japan America Society of Georgia

Newsletter Writers:

    Minako Ahearn, ICA Georgia

     Jessica Cork, ICA Georgia

     Marquis Daly

     Maria Domoto

     Yoshi Domoto

     Eboni Goar

     Stephen Haverfield

     Albert Hodge

     Naomy Huaman

     Robert Johnson, ICA Georgia

     Maki Murahashi

     Debra Owen, APCC

     Tara Ranzy, ICA Georgia

     George Waldner, JASG History

To advertise in future newsletters, please contact:

The Japan-America
Society of Georgia

1900 Century Place NE
Suite 112

Atlanta, GA 30345

Tel: (404) 842-1400
Fax: (404) 842-1415


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The Japan-America Society of Georgia, Inc.

is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located

 in Atlanta, Georgia with the mission

 to promote the mutual understanding 

between the people of Japan and

the State of Georgia


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