Industries in Depth

Japan Airlines ditches 'ladies and gentlemen' for gender-neutral greetings

A staff member of Japan Airlines wearing a protective face mask and gloves cleans the cabin of a plane which performed a domestic flight, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan May 26, 2020. Picture taken May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon - RC262H9ILONT

Air Canada and European low-cost carrier EasyJet said last year they would drop 'ladies and gentlemen'. . Image: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Beh Lih Yi
Correspondent, Thomas Reuters Foundation
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SDG 05: Gender Equality

  • Japan Airlines have become the most recent airline to drop 'ladies and gentlemen' for more inclusive, gender-neutral language.
  • A spokesman for the airline said: 'We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone, including our customers, with respect.'
  • Other notable airlines who have adopted new language include Air Canada and European low-cost carrier EasyJet.

Japan Airlines said on Monday it would swap “ladies and gentlemen” for gender-neutral greetings, following other global airlines in adopting more inclusive language for passengers.

Announcements at airports and on flights operated by the Japanese carrier will use the new forms of address from Oct. 1, the airline said. “Attention all passengers” and “Good morning everyone” will be among the terms adopted, local media reported.

Several airlines around the world have made a similar change in recognition of non-binary and transgender customers. Air Canada and European low-cost carrier EasyJet said last year they would drop “ladies and gentlemen”.

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“We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone, including our customers, with respect,” Japan Airlines spokesman Mark Morimoto told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

“We have committed to not discriminate based on gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other personal attributes.”

The announcement comes as gender-equality advocates say corporate support for LGBT+ rights is growing in socially-conservative Japan, where same-sex marriage remains illegal and being openly gay seen as taboo.

In April, a Japanese charity that launched a scheme offering digital partnership certificates - allowing same-sex couples to tap into the same staff benefits as heterosexual couples - won the backing of businesses from banks to insurers.

About a third of Japanese companies have measures in place to support gay couples, according to campaign group Nijiiro Diversity.

But activists say discrimination persists, and even though about two dozen cities, towns and wards issue same-sex partnership certificates to gay couples, they lack legal standing.

In March, Japan Airlines announced it would allow female flight attendants to wear trousers and ditch their high heels at work, following a feminist campaign that took off.

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