The Japan Society of Boston began as an informal discussion group sympathetic to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War. Until it disbanded during World War II, the Society was primarily a social organization, and hosted visiting Japanese dignitaries. Under the leadership of the late Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer, the Society was revived in 1953 and was legally incorporated in 1958. In the late 1970s, the Society began to expand, acquired office space, and hired its first part-time staff member. Beginning in 1980, the Society received a series of grants from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission that enabled it to hire a full-time executive director, expand its membership, increase its level of programming, and introduce new publications and other services. Since operational support from the Commission ended in 1986, the Japan Society of Boston has continued to thrive and grow, and currently offers its members and the general public an annual slate of more than 30 programs as well as publications and informational services.