Since the late 1970's Saburo Kato, Haruo Kaneshiro, John Naka, and Ted Tsukiyama worked tirelessly to create the World Bonsai Friendship for the pure love of bonsai. The catalyst for the creation of WBFF was “Expo '70” held in 1970 in Osaka, Japan. During this World's Fair, the efforts and unity of the Japanese bonsai community, including Saburo Kato's noble precept of "World Peace through Bonsai," was formulated.
Once established, WBFF's Bylaws divided the world into 9 regions, and required that each region would have a regional organization represented on the WBFF Board of Directors. The regions comprised:
2. Australia/New Zealand
3. China (including Taiwan)
7. Asia-Pacific (excluding China, India and Japan)
8. Latin America (including Mexico and the Caribbean)
9. North America (Canada/U.S.A)
WBFF's North American Region originally included Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. However, with deference to their languages differences, the WBFF Bylaws were later amended to place Mexico and the Caribbean in the Latin American Region. Hence, since 2007 the North American Region has included only Canada and the United States,
The first four WBFF World Bonsai Conventions were held:
1st in Omiya, Japan (1989);
2nd in Orlando, Florida (1993);
3rd in Seoul, Korea (1997);
4th World Bonsai Convention in Munich, Germany (2001)
During the 4th World Bonsai Convention in Munich in 2001, the North American Region was again selected to host a World Bonsai Convention, this time for the 5th World Bonsai Convention to be held in Washington, D.C. in 2005. In addition, the WBFF Bylaws were amended in 2001 to pass the Chairmanship of WBFF to the President of the regional organization selected to host the next World Bonsai Convention, so from that time forward the WBFF Chairmanship has rotated every four years.
Felix Laughlin became the WBFF Chairman from 2001 to 2005 with Saburo Kato becoming Honorary Chairman of WBFF and Daizo Iwasaki appointed WBFF Vice-Chairman.