Photo of JR East first bullet-train operator Yukie Sakai as she stands on the train platform at Sendai Station. (Photo courtesy of Mainichi)
(Photo courtesy of Mainichi)

In transportation news, JR East announced Tuesday that they have appointed their very first female bullet train operator to the Tohoku Shinkansen line. In an occupation dominated by male operators I’m sure it would be a difficult journey for a women to enter the ranks of such a male dominated position. Yukie Sakai 29, shown in a photo standing on the station platform in Sendai was born in Minamisoma in the Fukushima Prefecture. Sakai began working at JR East in April of 2001 where she gained experience as a conductor and then as an operator of non-bullet train lines. Sakai, then made the move to an apprentice on the Tohoku Shikansen line in October 2009, and then finally obtained her bullet train operating license on March 23 of this year. I do not have a complete understanding of the process necessary to obtain an operating license for the Shikansen (bullet train), but I’m impressed that someone of that age (29), male or female has the ability to move into such a position in a relatively short period of time. I always envisioned stuffy older men that have been on the job for twenty years or more would have the opportunity to move up and operate a bullet train. Sakai is now a member of a group of 400 male bullet train operators and began her first solo operation on April 9 of this year. I do not have exact number but JR Tokai and JR West have already had women actively operating bullet trains.

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