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First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima of the Japan Air Self Defence Force poses in the cockpit of an F-15J air superiority fighter at Nyutabaru airbase in the outskirts of Miyazaki on Aug. 23, 2018.
Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images
Girls & Women

Gender Equality Soars to New Heights in Japan With First Female Fighter Pilot


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Women have long experience bias in the workplace throughout the world. Japan’s first female fighter pilot is a symbol of trailblazing changes in the country. You can stand with Global Citizen by taking action here to support the UN’s Global Goal for gender equality.

In the latest push for gender equality in the country, Japan has appointed its first female fighter pilot.

First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima was officially given the title on Friday, following completion of her training in the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF), reported CNN.

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"Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots," Matsushima told CNN. "As the first female [fighter] pilot, I will open the way. I would like work hard to meet people's expectations and show my gratitude to people who have been supporting me. I want to become a full-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible."

Matsushima hails from the eastern city of Yokohama. She joined the JASDF after graduating from the National Defense Academy in 2014, received her pilot's license in 2015, and quickly advanced to fighter pilot training.

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Approximately 13,707 servicewomen represent just 6.1% of all Japanese troops, according to CNN. Part of the low enrollment is due to a legacy of gender bias.

The JASDF didn't accept women until 1993, according to the report. Even after that, women were still prohibited from flying fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft until the ban was lifted in 2015 as part of a greater government initiative to increase the number of women in the workplace.

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Now that Matsushima has broken that barrier in the sky, she hopes to inspire more women to join the ranks. She will be stationed at the Nyutabaru Air Base, and begin flying F-15J fighter jets.

"I wish to continue to work hard to fulfil my duty - not just for myself but also for women who will follow this path in the future," she told the BBC.