The Rotary Club of Tokyo was founded in October 1920
In January 1918, Umekichi Yoneyama visited the U.S. as a member of a Japanese financial delegation. In Dallas he was introduced to Rotary by a member of the Dallas Rotary Club, Kisaji Fukushima.
Upon return to Japan in 1920, Yoneyama organised the first Japanese Rotary Club with himself as President and Fukushima as Club Secretary, and applied for a charter which was granted in April the following year.
On September 1,1923, a severe earthquake ravaged the Tokyo‐Yokohama area and the fires which broke out gutted a large part of downtown Tokyo.
Quickly, the President of Rotary International、Guy Gundaker sent a relief fund of $25,000 US which was followed by that from many overseas clubs. A total of 503 Rotary Clubs contributed, making the amount donated more than $89,000 US. This sum of money was used to construct a "Rotary Home" for earthquake orphans, and for purchasing needed supplies for the 188 primary schools which had been destroyed by the disaster.
Japan was entering a turbulent time with warfare breaking out in China in 1936. Rotary was subject to much misunderstanding and slanderous criticism as being anti‐war and defeatist being an international organization. In order to defuse the situation, a Japan‐Manchuria Rotary Union independent of Rotary International was formed. After negotiating, Rotary International acquiesced in this solution in July, 1939, and the first District Conference of this entity took place in May, 1940.
After being forced to disband, it was decided to continue meetings under the name of the "Wednesday Club" as that had been the weekday for the Club's regular meetings. 190 former members assembled on Dec. 4, 1940 to from the new organization. In February, 1942 a Family Party was held to celebrate Rotary's anniversary. In May, 1945, the Imperial Hotel suffered damage from bombing, and the meeting venue was moved to the Japan Industrial Club, where the Wednesday Club continued until it was re‐chartered.
The war ended on August 15, 1945, and in January 1946 Tokyo Wednesday Club President Takashi Komatsu sent a letter to R. I. General Secretary Philip Lovejoy expressing the desire to be reinstated. In September 1948, R. I. President Sir Angus Mitchell dispatched General Secretary George R. Means to Japan for an investigation. After visiting former Rotary Clubs in Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto he returned to the U. S. but re‐visited Japan in March the following year to meet with R. L. Durgin, Advisor to General MacArthur's Headquarters to discuss the issue. His devoted efforts were instrumental in enabling Japan Rotary to make a fresh start without losing it's pre‐war leaders. On March 23rd 1949 The Rotary Club of Tokyo is re-chartered.
Since then, the club has continued to flourish and give back to the local and international community. They have founded programs such as the Yoneyama Scholarship Foundation to assist students from Asian countries studying in Japan, the Environmental Preservation Committee founded in 1993, the Special Foundation started by member Atsushi Miyawaki when he donated 1.4 million yen to the club to further its good work, and so the list goes on.
If you would like to find out more about the Rotary Club of Tokyo, check out their website!