I used to take it for granted that this newspaper's column Tensei Jingo Vox Populi, Vox Dei was always penned by middle-aged males -- collectively referred to as ojisan in Japanese.
In an essay illustrator Miri Masuda once contributed to The Asahi ShibunAsahi Shibun, she envisioned Tensei Jingo no Hito Vox Populi, Vox Dei Person as someone clad in a linen shirt and swinging in a hammock in a secret chamber on the top floor of the Asahi Shimbun building. I am pretty sure that that individual was an ojisan in her mind.
Since the end of World War II, all 15 authors have been men. I understand that Asahi came under criticism for preaching gender equality but not practising it inhouse.
When I was tapped to be the first woman to write this column, I felt something like, Well, that took a while, didn't it? Three new writers will take turns on two ojisan and one obasan middle-aged female starting today. Since we all differ considerably in background and personality, the topics we choose will obviously vary.
After thinking hard, I flashed back to scenes in the Australian Outback, where I drove extensively while I was a correspondent in Down Under.
Kangaroos would suddenly leap out of the bushes and wombats would lumbered and shuffled in the fog.
I was constantly scolded by my local guide to lower my headlights and not to step on the brake. But I was indescribably happy, thinking that life was just as full of unknowns as the Outback.
In her speech to the UN General Assembly four years ago, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that he never grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted. She stated that she was the third female prime minister of New Zealand, not the first.
Her relaxed stance was owed to a solid foundation built up by her predecessors.
My pace will probably be slow as the first woman assigned to this job. I would like to start walking forward for those who come after me.
I imagine that I will be tossed by the waves of words in a corner of a large office on a lower floor of the Asahi building.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. The column is written by the veteran Asahi Shimbun writers and provides useful insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.