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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 18:06 GMT
Woman in bullet train driving seat

bullet train The bullet trains began running in the Sixties


A woman has taken the controls of a Japanese bullet train to claim a history first.

Rieko Tsujiuchi has become the first female driver since the nation's fast trains began operating in 1964.

And the 25-year-old will be joined on Thursday by another woman driver, colleague, 23-year-old Yuka Sato.

Change in law

A spokesman for Tokai Japan Railway, which runs the trains, said: "Women can now be drivers because the change in the labour law allows them do late-night shifts, which all drivers have to do."

Japan's Labour Standard Act was amended in April last year to improve employment opportunities for women.

The two women will be driving the bullet train for another month as a part of a training programme for new employees hired after graduating from university before they are moved to other positions.

Ultra-fast

They will drive ultra-fast bullet trains, from Tokyo to Osaka.

Correspondents say it is one of a series of measures designed to improve job opportunities for women, who have been making slow headway trying to fight against many of the all-male preserves in Japanese society.

Another landmark was reached on 6 February in Osaka, when Fusae Ota became the country's first woman governor.

On the whole, although job opportunities for women are improving in Japan a glass ceiling remains in most sectors.
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09 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Politician challenges sumo tradition

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