Announcements on Japan Airlines flights will start sounding different very soon. The country’s flag carrier has announced that it is changing up its in-flight and airport announcements, foregoing words like “ladies and gentlemen” by Thursday to make way for gender-neutral expressions.
A spokesperson from Japan Airlines told AFP that they “will abolish expressions that [are] based on [two types of] sex and use gender-friendly expressions like ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’.”
According to CNN, the airline will use phrases like “attention all passengers” and “welcome, everyone.”
The airline has been using gender-neutral terms in Japanese, but will now start to do the same in English and other languages, a first for a major Japanese carrier, Japan Today reported. It recently adopted other changes for more inclusivity, like extending spouse and family allowances to same-sex couples and giving female flight attendants the choice to either wear pants or skirts. In August 2019, the airline also had a special “LGBT Ally Charter” flight for same-sex couples and their families, to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
“By communicating our company’s stance that we are an LGBTQ ally, we’re raising awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity among each and every employee. We’re also assuring our LGBTQ employees that they can continue working at our company,” Japan Airlines Human Resources Strategy Division Director Hiroshi Momota told Huffington Post Japan in October 2019.
Apart from Japan Airlines, other international carriers have taken similar actions in a bid to promote inclusivity. Australian airline Qantas launched their “Spirit of Inclusion” initiative in March 2018 that encourages staff to refrain from using gender-specific terms. Last year, Air Canada’s flight attendants swapped out “ladies and gentlemen” for “everybody.”
A 2019 survey conducted on 428,000 people aged 20 to 69 found that one in 10 people in Japan identified as LGBTQ or another sexual minority. While many are still steeped in conservative traditions, there has been a growing push for LGBTQ rights in Japan, including a movement to recognize and legalize same-sex marriage. In September, Kyoto followed other Japanese cities in recognizing same-sex partnerships. And in June, Mie became the first prefecture in Japan to ban people from outing other people’s sexual orientation and or gender identity.
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