College Women's Association of Japan
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June General Meeting – Japan’s Postwar Cabin Attendants and Alice Attwood, their American Instructor

Speaker: Professor Yoshiko Nakano

Date&time: June 12, Wednesday, 20:00  to 21:30 (JST)

Venue: <Online> A Zoom link will be shared with attendees in the registration confirmation email and also in a reminder email on the day prior to the event.

Fee: No payment is required.

RSVP: RSVP by June 10

What was it like for an American woman to work in postwar Japan? Why was she in Tokyo? What kind of training did she provide for JAL “stewardesses”?

Alice Attwood (1926-94) was an accidental pioneer who organized and provided training to Japan’s postwar cabin attendants in 1953. Japan Airlines (JAL) had begun offering domestic services only two years earlier in 1951 and was preparing for the country’s first international commercial flight since the end of the Pacific War. The route was transpacific from Tokyo to San Francisco via Honolulu and the newly established JAL was to compete with two trusted U.S. carriers – Northwest Airlines and Pan American World Airways. JAL’s management saw the need to train its “stewardesses” to meet international standards of inflight service and engaged an instructor from United Airlines for this purpose. Ms. Attwood, a 27-year-old cabin crew instructor, flew in from Los Angeles to provide Japanese young women six-month training in Japan.

Professor Nakano is particularly interested in the way in which non-Japanese people have facilitated the flow of Japanese products and services. This talk explores Japan’s entry into international commercial aviation seven decades ago with particular emphasis on its implications for women’s job duties.

Portfolio of Professor Yoshiko Nakano

Yoshiko Nakano is a Professor in the Department of International Design Management at Tokyo University of Science. After earning a Ph.D. at Georgetown University, she taught Japanese Studies at the University of Hong Kong from 2000 to 2022. She works on Japanese corporate history in a global context, focusing on international aviation, food and food technology. She is the author of Where There are Asians, There are Rice Cookers (2009, Hong Kong University Press) which depicts the collaborative approach to localization adopted by the Japanese manufacturing giant Panasonic and a Hong Kong entrepreneur.


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