TOKYO, Japan, Sept 28 – Japan Airlines is ditching the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” and instead embracing gender-neutral terms during in-flight and airport announcements from next month, the company said Monday.
From October 1, JAL “will abolish expressions that based on (two types of) sex and use the gender-friendly expression” like “good morning” and “good evening,” a spokesperson for the airline told AFP.
In Japanese, the expression generally used for such announcements is already gender-neutral, but the decision applies to other languages used by the airline.
The decision appears to be a first for major Japanese carriers, with a spokeswoman for rival ANA Holdings telling AFP they would “study the issue based on comments from our customers.”
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in Japan but the government has gradually expanded rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in recent years.
JAL last year operated a trial “LGBT Ally Charter” flight for same-sex partners and their families, and has already changed rules to extend spouse and family allowances to same-sex partners.
While Japan is relatively tolerant of homosexuality, there are no specific legal protections for gay people.
Japan’s LGBTQ population has campaigned for greater recognition from the government in recent years.
Thirteen same-sex couples filed suits last year accusing Tokyo of discrimination for failing to recognise their unions.
They argue that they are being denied rights accorded to heterosexual couples and hope courts will declare the government’s position unconstitutional.