She's Japan's first female warship commander, inaugurated on Tuesday at a change of guard ceremony. Ryoko Azuma will command the First Escort Division, comprising a warship squadron, a 1,000 crew, and Japan's flagship Izumo helicopter carrier.>> I feel excited to be appointed as a Commander of the First Escort Division, which comes with a heavy responsibility.
>> Japan's navy hopes her appointment will lure more women, as the country's declining birth rates and aging population fails to provide enough men.>> I personally don't care much about my gender. I wanna concentrate on fulfilling my responsibility as a commander of the Escort Division.>> Only 30 among her 1,000-strong crew are female.
When Ryoko joined in 1996, women were barred from even serving on warships. That rule was scrapped a decade ago, although submarines are still men-crew only. Like the wider economy in Japan, the country's military is turning to women to make up for a shortfall in personnel. Unlike commercial companies though, the military can't relocate or hire overseas.
It hopes to recruit another 14,000 women to the air, sea, and ground forces by 2030.