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Honda Names First Female Operating Officer

The Honda logoThe Honda logo
The Honda logoPhotograph by Stan Honda — AFP/Getty Images

Japan is notorious for having few women in business: a recent study found that women hold just 3% of executive positions there.

But on Tuesday, Japan-based Honda Motor Co. announced it will appoint its first female operating officer—a landmark appointment in a country where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made the empowerment of female workers a main plank in his economic growth strategy.

The newly appointed operating officer, Asako Suzuki, will take over the senior executive position in April. According to the Wall Street Journal, she’ll be Honda’s first female senior executive to be internally promoted. Her appointment was announced in the context of a larger reshuffling at the top of Honda: an executive vice president, directors, other operating officers, and corporate auditors were also named.

The Japanese government has long pushed for women to make up 30% of corporate leadership roles by 2020; in December, Abe reduced that goal to 7% by 2021 after companies made little progress, according to Quartz. Around 60% of women quit the workplace after having their first child, Bloomberg reported, often due to the stigma associated with pregnancy.