The Japan-America Society of Georgia’s annual dinner this week  at the Hotel Nikko was a love feast for the more than 500 attendees, showing none of the acrimony marking the current trade talks between the two countries.

Susumu Yamaji, chairman of Japan Airlines Co., and Don W. Sands, retired CEO of Gold Kist Inc. , received the Mike Mansfield Awards, named after the former Montana senator and ambassador to Japan, for their roles in promoting positive relations between Georgia and Japan.

Mr. Yamaji noted that since 1986 when Japan Airlines opened its first direct flight between Tokyo and Atlanta the number of Japanese companies in Georgia doubled to more than 300.

He also cited the cooperative economic and civic ties binding the cities of Atlanta and Fukuoka as well as those between the state of Georgia and the prefecture of Kagoshima.

Mr. Sands spoke to the strong personal relationships that tied Gold Kist to Japan and recognized the agricultural cooperative’s founder, D. W. Brooks, who participated in the negotiations for the first textile agreement between Japan and the U.S. at the request of then-President Eisenhower.  Mr. Brooks, 92, was among the dinner guests, and maintains an office at Gold Kist’s headquarters in Atlanta.