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MSDF captain first woman in Japan to command an Aegis destroyer

Kyodo

Maritime Self-Defense Force Capt. Miho Otani on Monday became the first woman to take the helm of one of Japan’s Aegis destroyers and pledged to set an example for other female sailors in the fleet.

“I expect you to pursue our missions without hesitation,” Otani, 48, told the 300-member crew of the Myoko at the MSDF’s Maizuru Base in Kyoto Prefecture.

Speaking to reporters, she explained the responsibility she will carry as captain of one of only six destroyers with the Aegis defense system currently in service.

“It is a great honor to become the first female captain (of an Aegis destroyer). I would like to think about how we can make this trend a norm as I believe an increasing number of women will enroll from now on.”

Otani became the first female skipper of an MSDF destroyer when she took the helm of the Yamagiri in 2016.

The native of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, has long been a trailblazer. She was one of the first women to graduate from the National Defense Academy, doing so in 1996, and became the first woman to captain a training vessel in 2013, according to the MSDF.