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Japan’s navy appoints first woman to command warship squadron

Japan’s navy on Tuesday appointed the first woman to command a warship squadron, including the flagship Izumo helicopter carrier. Ryoko Azuma will command four ships with a combined crew of 1,000, of which only 30 are women, that make up the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (MSDF) First Escort Division, Reuters said. The country is now trying to attract more females to make up for a dearth of male recruits. “I will concentrate my energy on fulfilling my duties as commander,” Azuma, 44, said at a change of command ceremony attended by 400 sailors aboard the Izumo, which was docked at a shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo for repairs. Japan’s military, like the wider economy, is turning to women to make up a shortfall in personnel as the working age population shrinks amid a drop in birthrates.