Mitsuko Tottori becomes first woman president of airline in Japan

Japan Airlines announced Wednesday it has named Mitsuko Tottori as its the female president, effective April 1. She's a former cabin attendant currently serving as a senior vice-president. Photo courtesy of Japan Airlines

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Japan Airlines on Wednesday promoted former cabin attendant Mitsuko Tottori to become the company's first female president, effective April 1.

Her rise is viewed as an important milestone as Japan continues to struggle with workplace gender equality.

Tottori joined the JAL Group in April 1985, rising to manage the 1st Cabin Attendant Department in 2005. She's currently a senior vice president and representative director at the airline.

Along the way, she took on different roles as she advanced within the company. She earned her first vice president title in May 2016.

In 2020, Tottori worked to improve Japan Airlines' brand and was just the second woman to be appointed the company's representative director in June of that year.

In 2023, she became senior vice president for customer experience at the JAL Group.

In a statement on its website, Japan Airlines said, "After joining the company, ... Tottori gained a high level of insight and field experience in safe flight operations and service through her career as a cabin attendant and through her work with Corporate Safety & Security.

"From 2020, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership as senior vice president, cabin attendants division, in balancing human resource development and employee motivation under the challenging management environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, making a significant contribution to maintaining safe operations," the statement said.

In the 2023 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, Japan ranked 125th out of 146 countries in closing the gender gap. The prior year, Japan ranked 116th.

In the East Asia region as a whole the gender gap is at 68.8% parity. Within that region New Zealand, the Phillipines and Australia have the highest parity.

Fiji, Myanmar and Japan are at the bottom of the list, according to the World Economic Forum report.

The report said that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 189 years for the East Asia and Pacific region to reach gender parity.