In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which formally brought World War II to a close, a variety of activities were planned as a way for the Japanese people to express their appreciation to the United States for the assistance they have received during the postwar period. As part of these activities, JCIE’s offices in Tokyo and New York, along with the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) in Washington DC, organized an A50 Caravan.

The “A” stands for Appreciation and America, and the “50” stands for the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco Peace Treaty as well as the 50 states.

The Caravan featured 15 teams, each consisting of three Japanese participants who represented different generations and a broad spectrum of professions and backgrounds. Each team was assigned a different route that would take it across the United States, from San Francisco, through at least two additional cities, and onwards to Washington DC. After a commemorative ceremony in Japan on September 8, 2001, the participants set out for San Francisco, where they attended a major conference organized by the Japan Society of Northern California. The following day, the 15 teams dispersed throughout the United States to visit 36 cities for public seminars and activities on the US-Japan relationship, and then convene in Washington DC for closing ceremonies on September 14, 2001. Sadly, the program was cut short by the tragic events of September 11, although a handful of teams completed much of their original itinerary.

A50 Initiative: An Old Friendship for a New Century, a report on the results of the caravan that includes the participants’ reflections on their interaction with Americans both prior to and after September 11, was published in 2002.