First Lieutenant Risa Takenouchi became the first female officer to serve on a submarine in the history of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) on May 18, 2021. The JMSDF has long only allowed men to serve on submarines, citing the difficulty of accommodating gender privacy concerns. But it changed the rules in late 2018, after assessing that gender-specific privacy needs can be met without major submarine remodelling. The ceremony took place at the JMSDF base in Sasebo. She is expected to become the first female submarine captain of the JMSDF.
Japan’s military as a whole is attempting to expand the role of women in its ranks as the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) struggle to attract young talent. The first female student was admitted to Japan’s national naval submarine academy in 2020 after the end of a ban on women on the country’s submarines. JMSDF also had its first five female submarine crew members (Petty Officer and Leading Seaman) in 2020. This is a part of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF efforts for efficient use of human resources.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is one of the world’s largest navies and the second largest navy in Asia in terms of fleet tonnage. The JMSDF operates a total of 22 attack submarines. The Oyashio class submarines entered service in the late 1990s. The Sōryū-class submarines have the largest displacement of any submarine used by post-war Japan. The Taigei-class submarines is a new class of attack submarines developed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. It is the successor to the Sōryū class.
The JSDF like the wider economy is turning to women to make up a shortfall in personnel as the nation’s working age population shrinks amid a drop in birthrates. By 2030, the JSDF plans to increase the combined number of women serving in the air sea and ground forces to 9 percent of the total from 6 percent, or 14,000 people now. In 2018, the first woman to command a warship squadron, including the flagship Izumo helicopter carrier, as it tries to lure more females to make up for a dearth of male recruits in graying Japan.