"Chikage Awashima, an actress known internationally for her work with Yasujiro Ozu and other greats of Japanese cinema's 1950s golden age, died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday in Tokyo," reports Mark Schilling for Variety. She was 87. In 1950, Awashima left the Takarazaka Revue Company for the Shochiku studio, where she'd appear in "a wide range of roles, though in the West she is best remembered as the vivacious, teasing friend of lead Setsuko Hara in such films as Early Summer (1951) and Early Spring (1956) or Michiko Kogure in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), all by Ozu. She later transferred to the Toho studio, where she starred as the level-headed geisha wife of a merchant prince's dilatory son in Shiro Toyoda's Meioto Zenzai (1955); she reprised the role in the 1963 follow-up…. Her last film role was in Masahiro Kobayashi's 2010 drama Haru's Journey."
Awashima's Japanese Wikipedia page notes that she fought for actors' rights as an active member of the Japan Actors Union, serving for a time as honorary Vice President.