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Japan Airlines appoints ex-flight attendant as its first-ever female president

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Japan Airlines (JAL) has appointed Mitsuko Tottori as its next president, making her the first woman to hold this position in the airline's history.

Tottori’s commitment: Tottori, who joined JAL as a flight attendant in 1985, has worked her way up through various roles, including senior manager and vice president of the carrier’s cabin safety department. The 59-year-old will take over from Yuji Akasaka on April 1, with Akasaka becoming the chairman. The move follows a recent JAL crash at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

“I have spent most of my career at the frontline of safety and customer services — that is the cabinet attendants' division,” Tottori said at a press conference, according to BBC. “Operational safety is the foundation of airlines. I will continue to demonstrate my firm commitment to this principle.”

Inspiring women: The appointment comes amid global efforts to address the underrepresentation of women in senior leadership positions in the aviation industry. Although the industry has seen some progress with an increase in the number of women leading top airlines globally, challenges reportedly persist. Tottori expressed hope that her promotion would inspire other women to pursue advancement in their careers.

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“There are female employees out there who are struggling with their career steps or going through big life events,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “I hope that my appointment as president can encourage them or give them the courage to take the next step.”

Japan’s gender diversity efforts: In Japan, there is a broader societal push to increase gender diversity in leadership roles, with the government targeting a third of leadership positions at major businesses to be held by women by 2030. However, as of 2021, women held only 13.2% of management positions in Japan, the lowest among OECD member countries.

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