Previous winners of the Mansfield Awards. Photo: JASG

Two mainstays of Georgia’s engagement with Japan are being honored in 2021 for their long-term commitment to the state’s economic ties with the country.  

Yumiko Nakazono, who recently retired after 30 years as the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s investment representative in the country, will join Day Lancaster, senior vice president of Japan corporate services at NAI Brannen Goddard, will receive this year’s Mike Mansfield Awards.  

The annual honor bestowed by the Japan-America Society of Georgia is named after the late U.S. senator who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as ambassador to Japan in 1977.  

Established in 1985, the award recognizes outstanding efforts to foster goodwill between the two countries.  

Japan-America Society Chair Al Hodge praised both recipients as embodying the ethic behind the award, consistently offering their assistance to the society while providing links for the state with Japan.  

“Yumiko and Day are always modest, loyal, professional and personal, and our board of directors and members are grateful for their many actions on our behalf,” Mr. Hodge said in a news release, adding that Mr. Lancaster was “first in” for Georgia in Japan, while Ms. Nakazono offered “extraordinary” stewardship of the state’s interests there.  

Mr. Lancaster was born in Japan to missionary parents and lived there until graduating high school. After college, he worked for two electronics companies before joining the then-Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, where he worked eight years. More than four were spent as head of the state’s Tokyo office, form which he helped attract more than 100 companies to Georgia. He later joined a cross-cultural training firm before taking up his career in real estate.  

“I am a long-time admirer of Ambassador Mansfield and had the privilege of meeting him while in Tokyo as Georgia’s representative and was able to observe his depth of character firsthand. So, I am particularly humbled and honored to be the American recipient of the 2021 Mike Mansfield Award,” Mr. Lancaster said in the release.  

Ms. Nakazono served under six Georgia governors, becoming managing director of the state’s Tokyo office five years after joining in 1989.  

In a recent Global Atlanta interview, she said one of the most rewarding aspects of her career was receiving messages of thanks from the many Japanese companies who succeeded in the state during her tenure, employing thousands of Georgians.  

A formal presentation of the awards is to be held in person at a year to be determined date this year, COVID-19 permitting.  

To learn more about the awards and their namesake, Mr. Mansfield, visit 

For more on the winners, see below. 

Day Lancaster 

Day Lancaster at NAI Brannen Goddard

For more information on Mr. Lancaster, read this Global Atlanta story… 

The Lancaster Brothers Successfully Rode the 1980s Japanese Investment Wave into Georgia

…or read his bio provided by the JASG:  

Day Lancaster was born in Japan to missionary parents and lived there until graduating from high school. After receiving a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Earlham College, he worked for two Japanese electronics companies and subsequently joined the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade, where he worked for eight years, four and a half of which were in Tokyo as Managing Director spearheading the effort to attract over 100 companies from the Pacific Rim to Georgia. After acquiring an Executive MBA from Georgia State University, Lancaster joined an intercultural communications consulting and training firm before starting his career in commercial real estate. In addition to his professional work, Mr. Lancaster serves on the Board of Directors of The Japan America Society of Georgia and served as chair in 2012 and 2013. He has also served as both an officer and a director of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and chaired the Yamabikokai, a subcommittee made up of Americans working for Japan related companies.  During the Centennial Olympic Games he was the ACOG Envoy to the Japanese Olympic delegation, heading up a volunteer team of 18 staff people who assisted the athletes and staff in the Olympic Village and various venues.

Yumiko Nakazono

Yumiko Nakazono

For more information on Yumiko Nakazono, read these stories… 

…or find her bio below: 

Yumiko Nakazono was born and raised in Kagoshima, Japan. She graduated from the Faculty of Law, Economics and Literature at Kagoshima University, where she majored in English and American Literature and Linguistics. She worked for Fuji Xerox Corporation before joining Georgia’s Japan office in 1989. She was promoted to the position of managing director just five years later. She served under six Georgia governors, during which time the Japanese corporate presence in Georgia has grown significantly. In 2019, Georgia exports to Japan totaled $1.48 billion and the state has benefited from over $11 billion in investment from Japanese-affiliated companies since the 1970s. Ms. Nakazono was also presented the Governor George Busbee Award in 2007, which recognizes an individual who has contributed to building ever stronger relationships between Japan and Georgia.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...