Kumi Fujisawa launched her finance career in Tokyo in 1989. It was a notable year: Emperor Akihito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, the Nikkei average reached its giddy peak and the Sony Walkman was still a hot-selling gadget.

Yet it wasn’t an easy time to be an ambitious young woman in Japan. Despite the skyrocketing economy and implementation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act three years before, big Japanese firms often didn’t consider recruiting female college graduates. Those who made it through the door were expected to drop out soon to get married.

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