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Monday, 24th October 2016
In Japan Sports News,

Junko Tabei, pioneering Japanese mountain climber, dies at 77

Junk Tabei, the first woman to climb Everest, has died of cancer aged 77 in Saitama, after a lifetime of scaling peaks across the world.

The Japanese mountaineer defied the expectations of women in her culture and climbed the highest mountains in more than 70 countries.

She summited the world’s tallest peak in May 1975 and by 1992, she had ticked off the six next highest ascents across the globe.

Tabei was diagnosed with cancer of the abdomen in 2012 and died on Thursday (October 20th) in hospital.

Despite her illness, she completed her last climb in July, as she accompanied survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

They made it to the top of Mount Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan and a famous symbol of the country throughout the world.

She was originally from Fukushima Prefecture, making the disaster that rocked the region a cause close to her heart.

Tabei’s ascent of Mount Everest was particularly remarkable as just 12 days before she reached the top, she had been buried in an avalanche lower down the mountain.

A guide had dug her out and Tabei remained determined to continue with the expedition and reach the summit.

It was not just the elements that she had to battle either, as the culture of Japan in the 1970s was very different to what it is today.

She spoke to the Japan Times in 2012 about overcoming these hurdles with the help of a supportive husband.

"Back in 1970s Japan, it was still widely considered that men were the ones to work outside and women would stay at home.

"Even women who had jobs - they were asked just to serve tea. So it was unthinkable for them to be promoted in their workplaces."