Dr Fujiko Chamberlain was a longstanding Committee member of the Australia Japan Society – Queensland and the Japanese community in Brisbane.
When she passed away in 2016 the Society commemorated her outstanding commitment to education and Australia Japan relations with a perpetual education award for Japan studies.
Dr Chamberlain was born in Kamakura in the early 1930’s, enduring the WWII firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki before attending the University Methodist Mission School in occupied Nagasaki from 1946 to 1949. After school, she took a position as a stenographer at the American Embassy in Tokyo where she was selected as the recipient of a bursary to Ashbury College, Kentucky in the United States.
She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a BA Honours Degree in Education at the University of San Diego, before securing a second Fulbright Scholarship and completing her Masters Degree in 1958.
By the 1960’s Dr Chamberlain was married with two sons and had relocated to Hawaii where she was instrumental in setting up the Japanese audio-lingual language program at the University of Hawaii. The program was a new approach to teaching and learning a language through hearing and speaking rather than grammatical analysis.
In 1971 Professor Joyce Akroyd, from the University of Queensland, invited Dr Chamberlain to establish a similar program in Queensland. Dr Chamberlain accepted the invitation and took on the role of Senior Lecturer in the University of Queensland’s Department of Japanese and Chinese studies, now known as the School of Linguistics and Literature Studies. She completed her PhD in 1983 and continued to work at the university for 24 years and also worked part-time at the University’s Institute of Modern Languages and at the South Bank and Mt Gravatt TAFE campuses.
In the 1970’s and 80’s strong foundations were being formed between Australia and Japan in the areas of trade, education and cultural exchange. Dr Chamberlain was at the heart of this, often assisting with the planning for high-level trade missions and negotiations, spearheading educational initiatives and vigorously promoting Japanese culture throughout the State.
She was also a passionate advocate for the introduction of Asian language education in Queensland primary and secondary schools during this time.
Dr Chamberlain was a longstanding member of the Australia Japan Society – Queensland, serving on the Committee for more than 40 years and over the terms of six Presidents.
In the early days of the Society, despite a busy academic career, she assisted the wives and families of the many Japanese businessmen from companies that had established offices in Brisbane in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Along with the many corporate functions, the Society had, at that time, a very active Ladies Group that regularly ran cultural events including exhibitions, demonstrations and lectures for 100’s of attendees. This group was instrumental in introducing Japan to the public of Brisbane.
Dr Chamberlain was involved in the establishment of Sister-Society relationships with reciprocal Japan Australia Societies in both Kobe and Esashi in Hokkaido and was a member of the AJS-Q’s selection panel for Australia Japan Foundation Scholarships.
Dr Chamberlain was a great supporter of the Consulate-General of Japan in Brisbane and the many Consul-Generals and their staff over the years. She was involved with the annual Japan Week events, was a judge and examiner for Monbusho Scholarships and was for many years a member of the Consulate-General of Japan’s selection panel for the annual Japanese Speech Contest and the Jet Program.
She contributed significantly to the Sister-City relationship between Brisbane and Kobe, travelling as a delegate on the inaugural 2010 Brisbane City Council Trade Mission to Kobe, led by the then Deputy Lord Mayor, Counsellor Graham Quirk.
She maintained an active role on the AJSQ Committee and conducted monthly Japanese language and culture classes, at the Brisbane City Library until her passing in 2016.
Dr Chamberlain was recognised by both the government of Australia and the government Japan, first as a Member of the Order of Australia and later with the Order of the Jewel Crown Fifth Class Apricot, for her active commitment to education and Australia Japan relations.
The Dr Fujiko Chamberlain Education Award for achievement in Japan Studies honours a lifetime of service to education, teaching of Japanese language and culture and Australia-Japan relations.