MSDF appoints first woman to command warship squadron
Japan Today -- Mar 07
Japan's navy on Tuesday appointed the first woman to command a warship squadron, including the flagship Izumo helicopter carrier, as it tries to lure more females to make up for a dearth of male recruits in graying Japan.

Ryoko Azuma, will command four ships with a combined crew of 1,000, of which only 30 are women, that make up the Maritime Self Defense Force's (MSDF) First Escort Division.

"I don't think about being a woman. I will concentrate my energy on fulfilling my duties as commander," Azuma, 44, said at a change of command ceremony attended by 400 sailors aboard the Izumo, which was docked at a shipyard in Yokohama for repairs.

When she joined the MSDF in 1996 women were barred from serving on warships, a rule that the navy abolished ten years ago. Submarines, however, are still crewed only by men.

Japan's military, like the wider economy is turning to women to make up a shortfall in personnel as the nation's working age population shrinks amid a drop in birthrates. The number of people aged between 18 and 26 years old is forecast by the government to shrink to seven million people by 2065 from 11 million last year.

News source: Japan Today
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