The American Friends of the International House of Japan was launched on December 16, 1988 in the Century Club located in New York City. The Founders included Robert B. Oxnan, President of the Asia Society; Porter McKeever; Richard Petree, President of the U.S.-Japan Foundation; George Packard, Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; John Wheeler, Vice President of the Japan Society; Maximilian Kempner, Sherman and Sterling; and Joseph E. Slater, Chairman of the John J. McCloy International Center.

Over the years, the American Friends of the International House have raised funds to support specific programs and publications at the International House including such things as the Jansen Memorial Lecture in 2001, publication of the I-House Press books "50 Years of the International House of Japan," "The First Fifty-five Years of the International House of Japan," and "Japan and Its Worlds:  Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies."  The Foundation also supported in 2009 the Blakemore Symposium to honor the contributions and career of Thomas L. Blakemore.

In 2017 the American Friends of the International House of Japan was re-energized with a mission of focusing on increasing membership in the I-House, especially among next generation American leaders in U.S.-Japan relations, as well as raising the I-House's profile in the U.S. and providing support for the I-House and its programs. The official public re-launch of the organization took place at the Cosmos Club on December 6, 2017 with special guests Senator Jay Rockefeller and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae. Board members Kent Calder, Vickey Bestor, David Janes, Robert Orr, Sam Kidder, and Dave Bakserville were present at the event, which was followed by a reception for local I-House members in the D.C. area.

The re-launch of the American Friends of the International House of Japan on December 6, 2017 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC with special guests Senator Jay Rockefeller and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae.

The re-launch of the American Friends of the International House of Japan on December 6, 2017 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC with special guests Senator Jay Rockefeller and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae.

The I-House itself has a distinguished history of working with top scholars from and institutions in the United States. Below are several photos from the 1950s to the 1980s.