Harumi Kobe, the first female chief of a regional tax bureau under the Finance Ministry, says gender is of no importance in her work.

"Since joining the ministry, I have rarely paid attention to whether someone is a man or a woman," Kobe, 51, told her inaugural press conference Tuesday at the Hiroshima Regional Taxation Bureau. "I want to continue working as I always have."

Facing a series of questions about being the first female to assume the post, Kobe said she does attach significance to her gender. She said she was the first woman to assume some of her previous posts as well.

The University of Tokyo graduate joined the Finance Ministry in 1985, serving in a series of posts, including head of the liquor tax department at the National Taxation Agency. She served as head of the accounting division at the agency from July 2011 before becoming chief of the local tax bureau, one of 11 in the country.

It is the Tokyo native's first assignment in Hiroshima Prefecture, a major sake-producing region. "I want to hear stories from brewers so that Japanese sake will be re-evaluated overseas under the government's Cool Japan strategy (to promote Japanese culture abroad), she said.