Japan Airlines names former cabin attendant as first female president
Japan Airlines, opens new tab named its first female president on Wednesday, a former cabin attendant who rose through the ranks to senior management, taking a deeply symbolic step in a country struggling to close a vast gender gap at work.
Mitsuko Tottori, a senior managing executive officer who joined JAL in 1985, the year it suffered one of the worst crashes in airline history, will become president from April 1, it said in a statement.
The appointment comes as Japanese companies face increasing pressure to boost gender diversity and tackle a gender pay gap that is the worst among the Group of Seven nations and almost double the average of the OECD grouping of advanced economies.
"There are female employees out there who are struggling with their career steps or going through big life events," Tottori told a news conference.
"I hope my appointment as a president can encourage them, or give them the courage to take the next step."
The change comes as the airline seeks to recover from the pandemic-era downturn and tourists flock back to Japan.
Airline safety is under a fresh spotlight after a collision between a JAL plane and a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft at Tokyo's Haneda airport this month. All 379 people aboard the airliner escaped as it burst into flames.
JAL has said Tottori acquired a "high level of insight and field experience" in safety operations and service.
The current president, Yuji Akasaka, will become chairperson while continuing to hold a representative director title, the airline said in its statement, opens new tab.
Yoshiharu Ueki, the current chairman, will retire from his post in April and leave the director position upon shareholder approval in June.
JAL has set itself a target for women to make up 30% of managers across the group by the end of the fiscal year to March 2026.
By the end of March 2023, the corresponding figure was 22.8%.