First woman fighter pilot in Japan

On Friday, August 24, Misa Matsushima realised her lifelong dream and struck a blow for Japan’s women when she started duty as the country’s first female fighter pilot. Matsushima, who holds the rank of first lieutenant in the air self-defence force, completed her training in August 2018, just three years after Japan lifted its ban on women becoming fighter pilots.

“I have admired fighter jet pilots ever since I saw Top Gun when I was in primary school,” she told reporters on the eve of starting her new role. “I want to continue to work hard to carry out my duties, not just for myself but also for women who want to follow this path in the future.” Three other women are currently training to join Japan’s elite group of fighter pilots.

Shinzo Abe wins party vote

Shinzo Abe is on course to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister—and achieve his goal of revising the country's pacifist constitution—after he was comfortably re-elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic party [LDP] on Thursday, September 20.

Abe's victory—taking 553 votes out of a total of 807—means he is assured of continuing as prime minister and is expected to use his mandate to push ahead with controversial plans to strengthen the legal status of Japan's military, known as the self-defence forces.

Speaking on the eve of the vote among LDP MPs and party members, Abe said he was determined to "Build a new country together", adding: "I promise to take the lead in handing over a proud and hopeful Japan to younger generations."

Chinese navy enters South China Sea

A group of Chinese warships led by the country's sole aircraft carrier entered the top half of the South China Sea on Monday after passing south of Taiwan, the self-ruled island's Defense Ministry said of what China has termed a routine exercise.

The move comes amid renewed tension over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, ineligible for state-to-state relations, following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's telephone call with the island's president that upset Beijing.