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This Female 'Top Gun' Fighter Pilot Is Japan's First And She Hopes To Inspire Others

This Female 'Top Gun' Fighter Pilot Is Japan's First And She Hopes To Inspire Others
(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

A Japanese female pilot defied gender norms after reaching her ambition set high above the clouds.

First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima, 26, finished training to fly F-15s and was recently named the first female fighter pilot in a ceremony on Friday. The appointment is considered to be groundbreaking for the traditionally male-dominated work force of Japan.

Matshushima hopes to prove to other women that when it comes to having unattainable ambitions, the sky's the limit.

"As the first female (fighter) pilot, I will open the way," she told reporters.

"I would like work hard to meet people's expectations and show my gratitude to people who have been supporting me. I want to become a full-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible."

CNN reported that Matsushima joined the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) in 2014 after graduating from the National Defense Academy.

Although JASDF allowed female applicants by 1993, women were banned from flying fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft until 2015 when the Japanese government aimed to close the gender gap.

Due to an imbalance in the aging population and steady decline in the Japanese workforce, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aimed for empowering women in the workplace with a steady stream of initiatives in 2013.

He urged for companies to have at least one female executive and offered tax incentives for companies that welcomed back mothers previously gone for maternity leave.

This policy of "womenomics" has made its way into the Defense Ministry, which allowed for women like Matsushima to become a part of the Self Defense Force.

Tom Cruise may have had a hand in inspiring Matsushima to become a fighter pilot.

"Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots."
"I wish to continue to work hard to fulfil my duty - not just for myself but also for women who will follow this path in the future."

The accolades poured in from around the world.

Matsushima is one of 13,707 servicewomen comprising 6.1% of all Japanese troops. With the "womenomics" policy to increase working women, the Defense Ministry is drafting up further initiatives in the hopes of increasing the number of women in the Self Defense Forces to 9% by 2030, according to CNN.

The Yokohama native will be stationed in Nyutabaru Air Base and will begin piloting F-15J fighter jets, which are supersonic, all-weather twin-engine fighters with features such as radar warning.

H/T - MHI, CNN, Twitter, BBC