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The chef, the bartender, the sake brewer and the entrepreneur

Four women at the forefront of Japanese gastronomy

From left, the Chef, Natsuko Shoji; the Bartender, Yukiyo Kurihara; The Sake Brewer. Kuniko Mukai; The Entrepreneur, Food Loss Bank CEO Sakiko Yamada. (Source photos by Yuki Kohara, Ken Kobayashi and courtesy of Black Market Sake)

TOKYO -- Japan may lag behind other developed countries when it comes to gender equality in the boardroom, but more and more women are taking the lead in hospitality, an increasingly important sector for Japan's economy.

"Women have always been present in the world of food and drinks -- for example, in farming and winemaking, as well as in restaurants -- but many left their jobs after having children. Now, the industry is changing and more women in the younger generation are entering these fields," says Hiroko Sasaki, food journalist and co-founder of the seafood sustainability group Chefs for the Blue.

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