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Japan Aegis destroyer hosts 1st female captain

Capt. Miho Otani, second from left, salutes crew members of the MSDF Aegis destroyer Myoko, at the force's Maizuru District base in the city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, on Dec. 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Kazuo Namekata)
The MSDF Aegis vessel Myoko is seen at the force's Maizuru District base in the city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, on Dec. 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Kazuo Namekata)

MAIZURU, Kyoto -- A Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) officer has become Japan's first woman to take the helm of one of the force's Aegis destroyers.

Capt. Miho Otani, 48, attended a ceremony on Dec. 2 to mark her assuming the captaincy of the MSDF Aegis vessel Myoko at its home port in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, in western Japan.

"Let's set sail for a new voyage today, sharing both hardships and joys, with determination in mind to allow Japanese citizens to sleep in peace," Otani said, as she addressed crew members lined up aboard the vessel at the MSDF Maizuru District base.

The vessel, measuring 161 meters long with a displacement of 7,250 metric tons, has a capacity for some 300 sailors. It is equipped with sophisticated radars and is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.

Originally hailing from the western Japan city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, Otani graduated from the National Defense Academy in 1996 as part the school's first batch of female students. She had previously captained the MSDF training ship Shimayuki and the escort ship Yamagiri, before being promoted to the official rank of captain in July 2017. She was serving in the Self-Defense Fleet Headquarters before being assigned to the helm of the Myoko.

After the ceremony, Otani expressed her aspirations about her new role, stating, "I assume it is going to be a tough mission (amid a spate of North Korean missile launches and other circumstances), but I would like to fulfill my duties."

(Japanese original by Kazuo Namekata, Maizuru Bureau)

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