NWI - Naval Warfare

Japanese navy appoints first female chief of warship unit

6th March 2018 - 14:15 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Tokyo

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The Japanese navy said on 6 March it had for the first time appointed a woman as commander of a unit that includes the country's biggest warship.

Ryoko Azuma, 44, will command  four warships making up a division with a total of 1,000 crew members.

A spokesman for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force told AFP: ‘This is the first time a woman was appointed for the job. But she wasn't chosen because she was a woman.’

The ships include the helicopter carrier Izumo, the navy's biggest ship.

Azuma, after a ceremony at Yokohama near Tokyo to mark her arrival in the post, said: ‘I want to do my best to carry out the heavy duty I have been given.’

About 400 crew members attended the ceremony.

Azuma said: ‘I don't think about being a woman but I want to try to become a role model for younger female officers.’

About 14,000 women are currently serving in the Self-Defense Forces as the military is known, accounting for only 6% of the entire personnel.

On most levels, Japan lags behind other developed countries in terms of sexual equality.

In politics women are still under-represented with only 47 of the 465 members of the lower house.

According to statistics compiled by the Swiss-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, this ratio of 10.1% places Japan below Myanmar and Gambia.

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