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Mitsuko Tottori named as first woman president of JAL

Japan Airlines on Wednesday named former cabin attendant Mitsuko Tottori as its new president, becoming the first woman to head the carrier and a rare female leader at a major Japanese firm. Tottori, a senior managing executive officer who joined the airline in 1985, will take the helm from April 1, joining a tiny group of women leaders at Japan Inc. In a survey taken a year ago, only 15 women served as company presidents out of 1,836 firms in the prestigious “Prime” section of Tokyo Stock Exchange. “I have spent most of my career at the frontline of safety and customer services, that is the cabin attendants’ division,” Tottori told a press conference. “Operational safety is the foundation of airlines. I will continue to demonstrate my firm commitment to this principle,” she said. Japan has long aspired, but so far failed, to place many women in leadership positions. The government wants a third of leadership positions at major businesses to go to women by 2030, after failing to achieve the goal by 2020. It is also calling on businesses to appoint at least one woman as an executive in 2025. Women held 13.2 percent of management positions in Japan in 2021, the lowest among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The trend suggested “a serious misallocation of human resources”, the OECD said in a report. Tottori’s appointment also comes shortly after JAL cabin crew received international praise for evacuating to safety all 379 people on board an airliner that collided with a smaller coastguard plane and was engulfed in flames as it landed at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on January 2. Five of the six people on the coastguard plane died.

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