Japan's first female fighter pilot, 1st Lt. Misa Matsushima, at Nyutabaru Air Base in Shintomi, Miyazaki Prefecture (The Asahi Shimbun)

SHINTOMI, Miyazaki Prefecture--Japan's first female fighter pilot will make her debut on Aug. 24.

1st Lt. Misa Matsushima, 26, will be assigned to the Air Self-Defense Force’s 5th Air Wing, headquartered at Nyutabaru Air Base here.

“It has been my dream since childhood,” Matsushima told reporters at the air base on Aug. 23 after receiving certification she had completed the fighter operation course.

Matsushima joined the SDF after graduating from the National Defense Academy.

Initially, she aimed to pilot transport planes and began training to win certification for that in September 2014.

In November 2015, the Defense Ministry announced it would allow women to pilot fighter aircraft.

Matsushima dropped everything to pursue her dream.

Fighter pilots are regarded as stars in the SDF. They undergo three years of training before being assigned to a unit and must withstand a heavy physical and mental burden.

In a fighter plane that changes course at high speed, pilots must endure extreme gravitational forces.

Not only that, they have to make snap judgments while zooming across the skies.

In 1993, the ASDF lifted its ban on women in a range of jobs, including piloting transport and rescue aircraft. However, the prohibition remained for fighter pilots.

In 2015, however, it also removed the ban as part of the Abe administration’s campaign to create better working environments and opportunities for women.

(This article was written by Hiroyuki Kikuchi and Hirotaka Kojo.)