These women are sailors in the Japanese Navy, training for a seaborne inspection ring. They're on the front line of bringing equality to Japan's maritime self-defense force. They're crew aboard their country's biggest war ship, a helicopter carrier named The Kaga. Around 9% of the Kaga's crew are female, part of a deliberate effort to raise the number in Japan's military, where the current average is just 6%.
Akiko Ihara has a crucial job on The Kaga, helping maintain the ships aircraft. And she say having men and women work side by side here is helping break down old school ideas about women in Japan.>>
> I think people's opinion changed when they start to work, some people may think of women ahead they don't even think of layman.
But as women, we aren't here for such things, we came here because we also want to work and go out to the world.>> Reuters' Tim Kelly gained exclusive access to the cargo during a recent tour of Southeast Asia. And he says the ship's very design is helping bring women to the fore.
>> There are no roles on this ship that women don't perform. They do aircraft maintenance, they steer the ship they are in the radio room, they work in the kitchens, it takes a lot of people to operate a ship, this ship has a crew of 500 people, and about 50, 40, 50 of those are women.
So this ship has been designed specifically to be having mixed crew it has separate quarters for the women and separate quarters for the men and then they work together.>> Attracting more women to join Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force isn't just about equality. The country's change in demographics along with China's rising influence in Asia, have made it a necessity.
>> About 9% figure, is a figure that the Japanese Navy, the Self Defence Force. It's
] for how many women they want in the service by 2030. The reason for that is falling birth rates mean that people of a certain age that they can recruit has shrunken, so they need more women to join to keep numbers up.
>> Japan has one of the world's biggest navy's, with over 100 vessels crewed by over 45 thousand sailors.