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Japan Airlines ditches 'ladies and gentlemen' for gender-neutral greetings

Sept 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Japan Airlines said on Monday it would swap “ladies and gentlemen” for gender-neutral greetings, following other global airlines in adopting more inclusive language for passengers.

Announcements at airports and on flights operated by the Japanese carrier will use the new forms of address from Oct. 1, the airline said. “Attention all passengers” and “Good morning everyone” will be among the terms adopted, local media reported.

Several airlines around the world have made a similar change in recognition of non-binary and transgender customers. Air Canada and European low-cost carrier EasyJet said last year they would drop “ladies and gentlemen”.

“We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone, including our customers, with respect,” Japan Airlines spokesman Mark Morimoto told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

“We have committed to not discriminate based on gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other personal attributes.”

The announcement comes as gender-equality advocates say corporate support for LGBT+ rights is growing in socially-conservative Japan, where same-sex marriage remains illegal and being openly gay seen as taboo.

In April, a Japanese charity that launched a scheme offering digital partnership certificates - allowing same-sex couples to tap into the same staff benefits as heterosexual couples - won the backing of businesses from banks to insurers.

About a third of Japanese companies have measures in place to support gay couples, according to campaign group Nijiiro Diversity.

But activists say discrimination persists, and even though about two dozen cities, towns and wards issue same-sex partnership certificates to gay couples, they lack legal standing.

In March, Japan Airlines announced it would allow female flight attendants to wear trousers and ditch their high heels at work, following a feminist campaign that took off. (Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org)

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