The Kaneko Award is named after the AJS’s first president, Count Kentaro Kaneko, who persuaded his fellow Harvard alumnus Theodore Roosevelt to help broker the treaty to end the Russo-Japanese war. The award was created in 2017 as part of the America-Japan Society's centennial celebration to honor individuals who have promoted grassroots, people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States. The award is given to one American and one Japanese each year. Candidates were recommended by Japan-America Societies in Japan as well as in the United States and other exchange-related organizations. An AJS selection committee in Tokyo selected the winners.
South-Paul serves as the Chair for the Department of Family Medicine at UPMC
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Professor for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Family Medicine
. She has led UPMC’s collaboration with Aso Iizuka Hospital (AIH) in Iizuka, Japan since 2006. South-Paul and her physician colleagues have spent more than ten years working with physicians at AIH, led initially by CEO Dr. Jiro Tanaka and the Aso Corporation CEO Yutaka Aso, and later by the current AIH CEO, Akihide Masumoto. Working with the Department of General Internal Medicine, Dr. South- Paul and UPMC’s Department of Family Medicine partnered with AIH colleagues to create a Family Medicine residency and to design a new Family Medicine Health Center within a newly built primary care-oriented hospital. The collaboration has resulted in physicians from Pittsburgh training in Iizuka and physicians and nurses from Iizuka coming to Pittsburgh annually to enhance their faculty development through UPMC’s Family Medicine Centers and focused collaboration with other UPMC partnering specialists. In the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku triple disaster, Dr. South-Paul joined the Pittsburgh steering committee gathering relief funds. UPMC employees made a significant contribution to more than $500,000 raised in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to her publications and work with Japan, Dr. South-Paul works with challenged groups such as pregnant teens to assist them with managing their lives and actively taking steps to create a stable environment for their children.
Established in 1917, the America-Japan Society is one of the first organizations to promote bilateral friendship between Japan and the U.S. The organization has been headed by prominent figures, including former prime ministers Shigeru Yoshida, Nobusuke Kishi, and Takeo Fukuda.