A former cabin attendant assumes the position of President at Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines (9201.T) unveiled its first female president on Wednesday, marking a significant milestone for the airline. Mitsuko Tottori, a senior managing executive officer with a career at JAL since 1985, will assume the role of president starting April 1. This appointment holds deep symbolism in a country that continues to grapple with a substantial gender gap in the workplace.

Tottori, who climbed the ranks from a former cabin attendant to senior management, witnessed JAL’s challenges firsthand, including the airline’s notorious crash in 1985—one of the worst in aviation history. The announcement aligns with the growing societal pressure on Japanese companies to enhance gender diversity and address a gender pay gap that surpasses that of other Group of Seven nations, nearly doubling the average of the OECD grouping of advanced economies.

At a news conference, Tottori acknowledged the challenges faced by female employees in their career journeys or significant life events. She expressed hope that her presidency would serve as encouragement and provide the courage needed for others to take the next step in their careers.

This leadership change occurs as Japan Airlines navigates its recovery from the pandemic-induced downturn and anticipates a resurgence in tourism to Japan. The airline’s safety practices have come under scrutiny following a recent incident at Tokyo’s Haneda airport involving a collision between a JAL plane and a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft. Despite the incident, JAL emphasizes Tottori’s extensive insight and field experience in safety operations and service.

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