Japan Airlines (JAL) has appointed its first female president, marking a significant milestone in a nation grappling with a substantial gender gap in the workplace, CNN reported.
Mitsuko Tottori, a seasoned executive who ascended from a cabin attendant role since joining JAL in 1985, is set to assume the presidency on April 1, as announced in a statement on Wednesday.
This move occurs amid growing pressure on Japanese companies to enhance gender diversity and address a gender pay gap that surpasses that of other Group of Seven nations.
“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 leadership transition aligns with the airline’s efforts to rebound from the pandemic-induced downturn, coinciding with the resurgence of tourists visiting Japan.
Notably, the airline’s safety has come under renewed scrutiny following a recent incident at Tokyo’s Haneda airport involving a collision between a JAL plane and a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft.
Fortunately, all 379 passengers on the airliner escaped as it caught fire.
The outgoing president, Yuji Akasaka, will assume the position of chairperson while retaining the title of representative director, according to the airline’s statement.
The current chairman, Yoshiharu Ueki, is slated to retire in April and vacate the director position pending shareholder approval in June.
JAL has set an ambitious target for women to constitute 30% of managers across the group by the end of the fiscal year concluding in March 2026.