TOKYO, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Ministry of Defense said Tuesday it was launching an initiative to attract more female personnel to join and serve alongside their male counterparts in the Self-Defense Forces as part of a broader governmental push to address gender disparity in the workforce.
At a press briefing on the matter, Japan's Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the initiative was aimed at making the Self-Defense Forces an attractive organization that was "adaptable to the times and environment."
According to the Defense Ministry, the number of females currently playing an active role within Japan's Self-Defense Forces is lower than in other major industrialized countries.
The latest move will allow women to be hired for all positions in the Ground, Air and Maritime Self-Defense Forces, including in infantry and tank units and others that might involve direct combat, the ministry said.
The latest move by the ministry lifts the last of the restrictions since a gradual easing from 1993, with females currently allowed to serve on Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and in Air Self-Defense Force fighters.
The only restrictions that would apply, the ministry said, would be in cases where maternal protection would be necessary, such as in instances where certain SDF units face radiation hazards, and in cases where limited space would impinge on women's privacy.
The ministry has set a target of around 12 percent of its personnel being female within an unspecified time-frame, which would be double the current number of serving female SDF personnel.
Currently there are around 14,000 females serving in the SDF, which accounts for just over 6 percent.
The ministry is also planning to reduce the number of female personnel leaving the SDF mid-career to raise children or fulfill other family obligations such as transferring overseas with spouses.