Japan's new Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
politics

Seven-time Olympian, pioneer woman lawmaker Hashimoto appointed Olympics minister

9 Comments
By Elaine Lies

Named after the Olympic flame when she was born days before Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964, Seiko Hashimoto has lived up to her name by taking part in seven Olympics and doing it in two sports.

The 54-year-old ruling party lawmaker now assumes the post of Olympics minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reshuffled cabinet, allowing her to oversee Japan's second hosting of the Summer Games that begin on July 24, 2020.

Best known as a speed skater, Hashimoto - who hails from Japan's wintry northernmost main island of Hokkaido - competed in Games from Sarajevo in 1984 to Atlanta in 1996. Three of these she took part in as a cyclist after deciding to compete in the discipline she originally took up for off-season training.

Her first name, Seiko, is written with the same first character as the Japanese for "Olympic flame" - seika - in commemoration of the 1964 event, which opened five days after her birth and was a pivotal event in modern Japanese history.

Though the highest Olympic medal she won was a bronze at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games in the Ladies 1,500-meter race, she set a record for taking part in the most Olympic games of any Japanese woman.

She is also the only Japanese woman to compete in the Olympics while serving as a lawmaker, after she won election to the upper house of parliament in 1995 and finished her Olympic career at Atlanta as a cyclist a year later.

After marrying a policeman whose first wife had died, in 2000 she made history again by becoming the first upper house lawmaker to give birth while holding office. She kept working almost until her daughter was born, reportedly just two hours after she entered hospital.

Hashimoto's husband brought three children to their marriage and they had two more, making her the mother of six - three boys and three girls. She has focused on education and children in her policy pursuits and also puts priority on health issues and Japan's falling birth rate.

Currently vice president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, she has also served as a Tokyo 2020 Executive Board member and president of the Japanese Skating Association.

Hashimoto will also serve as Minister in Charge of Women's Empowerment.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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Should a veteran truck driver with 30 years of... truck-driving, be appointed as a transport ministry head? I do not think this is how it works.

neither I did read the article, so...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Will that post be made redundant as soon as the Olympics are over next summer? Does any other country have an official ministerial post like this, or is this all about money (again)?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

maybe she could finally make some logical decisions? like not force people to swim in the sea of excrements for triathlon?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

in 2000 she made history again by becoming the first upper house lawmaker to give birth while holding office

What she did was great. But it’s kind of sad hearing that a woman had not given birth while holding office until the turn of the century.

Should a veteran truck driver with 30 years of... truck-driving, be appointed as a transport ministry head? 

@Daniel Naumoff

It depends on whether or not that truck driver is friends with Abe.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Should a veteran truck driver with 30 years of... truck-driving, be appointed as a transport ministry head? I do not think this is how it works.

Better that than someone who has never driven a car or has a license... a la the former IT minster who had never used a computer.

Besides, a former Olympian who is also a lawmaker will have more experience and understanding of what the position entails.  Then there's this:

Currently vice president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, she has also served as a Tokyo 2020 Executive Board member and president of the Japanese Skating Association.

So yeah, I think she's qualified.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Will that post be made redundant as soon as the Olympics are over next summer?

Possibly, but I would guess/hope that means she's also the top person when it comes to any Olympics-related matters, Summer or Winter, including qualifying competitions, handling legal matters, etc.

Also,

Hashimoto will also serve as Minister in Charge of Women's Empowerment.

So while the Olympics part of her job may become less important (or be made redundant) after next year, she still will have plenty of work ahead of her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Better that than someone who has never driven a car or has a license... a la the former IT minster who had never used a computer.

Besides, a former Olympian who is also a lawmaker will have more experience and understanding of what the position entails. Then there's this:

And better than the previous Olympic Minister Mori who looked like the only excercise he ever did was competitive eating...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Respect to anyone who brings up six kids. Three is hard enough.

1964 event, which ... was a pivotal event in modern Japanese history.

Just accepting that as true, i.e., pivotal and not just symbolic, I wonder what this games will achieve, or be presented as achieving. London 2012 was very successful but the UK has not fared well since.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Will she be able to cope with South Korean selfishness?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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