Japan's Women Sailors Serve on Front Line of Gender Equality
Women serving on Japan's biggest warship, the Kaga, are a tight-knit group on the front line of a push to transform the Japanese navy into a mixed-gender fighting force, where men outnumber them more than 10 to one. The Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) needs more women because falling birth rates mean it has too few men to crew warships in home waters or on helicopter carriers such as the Kaga, sailing in foreign waters to counter China's growing regional influence. "Women all over the world are working in a wider number of areas and I think Japan needs to be a part of that," said petty officer Akiko Ihara, 31, standing beside one of the helicopters she helps to maintain. The proportion of women in the Kaga's 450-strong crew is bout 9 percent, a level Japan is targeting for the military overall by 2030 from 6 percent now. That...
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