This series explores topics surrounding women who began their careers in Japan following the implementation of equal opportunities employment legislation in the mid-1980s. With many now reaching the age of retirement, it is hoped their stories can provide insight and lessons for women in Japan’s professional world today.

Chikako Matsumoto, an executive officer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB), spent her childhood in Osaka during the go-go era of economic boom in Japan. When she graduated from a Tokyo college in 1985, the economy was on the cusp of entering a bubble for several years, which gave the nation the false impression that the only way forward was up.

After Japan slipped into decadeslong deflation when the bubble burst in 1991, Matsumoto spent much of her working life in Washington, observing her homeland from afar, until she finally returned to a much-changed country first in 2010 due to a leave of absence from the World Bank, and then permanently in 2014.