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The Beginning

In 1969, an American woman married to a Japanese, Joan Itoh Burk, wanted to connect with other foreign women with Japanese partners. Jean Pearce, a columnist for The Japan Times newspaper, put out a call on Joan’s behalf in her column, and subsequently helped Joan to promote a get-together at the Tokyo American Club that September. The organizers were stunned when around 50 women showed up.

“The room sounded like a school reunion. No one just walking in would have believed that 45 minutes ago most of these women were total strangers to each other. They were speaking their own languages and with plenty to talk and laugh about.

When some of the confusion quieted down and we actually got round to eating lunch, we stood up one by one and introduced ourselves. Most spoke in English, some in Japanese, and other languages that a new friend translated. Everyone was so happy. They clapped after each introduction. The handful of older ladies who were in Japan from pre-war days got hearty applause. The younger ones could just imagine! 

I doubt if any of us who attended that meeting will ever forget it. One could just feel the energy generated from the pure joy in that room. There was a need for a club to be formed, and it was decided then and there to meet for luncheon four times a year, once every season.”  

Joan Itoh Burk  

Based on this successful gathering, plans were made to establish a formal organization, which blossomed into AFWJ. READ MORE

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