Sir Gordon Freeth KBE
The Australia Japan Society of WA is a volunteer organisation formed in 1974 by the late Sir Gordon Freeth (Australian Ambassador to Japan) and Mr John O Brien. For more than 40 years the AJSWA has played an important grass roots role in organising and promoting many activities of interest to the Australian and Japanese communities.
AJSWA is run by a Committee of volunteers drawn from all walks of life. All events and activities are due to the generosity of the team who donate their time and talents for the benefit of the community.
AJSWA, Ikebana teacher Mrs Akiko Chester and AJSWA Past President Patrick Whight are recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun.
Past President Ged Boylan was awarded commendation from the Japanese Foreign Minister. Ged has also been recognised in 2020 by the conferral of the Order of the Rising Sun Gold Rays with Rosette.
Response to Japanese disasters
Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Recovery Memorial Gift 1998
The AJSWA helped raise funds to purchase and send to Kobe the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Recovery Memorial. The memorial, created by husband and wife sculptors Mr Charles Smith and Mrs Joan Walsh-Smith from Gidgegannup, was gifted by WA in memory of those who lost their life, and to acknowledge the courage of those who survived. The statue of black swans in flight was erected on Kobe’s Awaji Island Park in March 1998 to coincide with the official opening of the longest suspension bridge in the world – Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.
Tohoku region earthquake and tsunami 2011
In 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami devastated much of the Tohoku region on Japan’s east coast on March 11, the AJSWA immediately convened an extraordinary meeting to begin work with a number of community groups, forming the Friends of Japan WA to raise relief funds. We staged a Japan Festival which became the blueprint for the highly successful Festival of Japan which occurs annually in Perth.
20th Anniversary Memorial Service – the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster 2015
In partnership with the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre in Perth, AJSWA presented the Memorial Service for the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster on January 16. The 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Kobe city on January 17, 1995, killing 6,434 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes. The memorial service on the eve of the 20th anniversary in the Hyogo Friendship Garden in West Perth, paid respect to those who lost their lives and the survivors whose lives were so significantly affected, and also to show appreciation to the West Australian people for their ongoing support.