Japan’s Olympic minister takes Tokyo 2020 top job after sexism row

Seiko Hashimoto,

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, speaks throughout the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board assembly, in Tokyo, Japan February 18, 2021. Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool through REUTERS

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto turned Tokyo 2020’s new president on Thursday, capping an embarrassing sexism row with simply over 5 months till the virus-postponed Games.

Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian who competed in velocity skating and as a dash bicycle owner, was considered one of simply two ladies in Japan’s cupboard earlier than stepping all the way down to take the important thing submit.

She replaces 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who resigned after claiming that girls converse an excessive amount of in conferences, sparking outcry in Japan and overseas.

“I will spare no effort for the success of the Tokyo Games,” Hashimoto mentioned after being formally appointed, calling virus countermeasures “the top priority.”

She pledged to work to “ensure that the public both domestically and abroad feel this is going to be a safe and secure Olympic Games.”

Hashimoto submitted her resignation earlier Thursday to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who she mentioned had supplied “kind words,” and requested her to “give all my strength to create a Tokyo Games that will be embraced by the Japanese people.”

A committee with a 50-50 gender break up was shaped to discover a successor to Mori final week, with Hashimoto instantly among the many main candidates.

Tokyo 2020’s executive board met earlier Thursday to listen to the outcomes of the committee’s deliberations with 2020 vice-president Toshiaki Endo saying a fast choice was wanted.

Mori’s departure was “enormously damaging from the viewpoint of preparation five months before the Games,” Endo mentioned.

“We need to make a decision on the new president as soon as possible, though it is necessary that it goes through appropriate procedures, given the issue has attracted attention at home and abroad,” he added.

Uphill battle for public assist

Hashimoto, 56, appeared at each winter and summer season Games and was additionally serving as minister for gender equality and girls’s empowerment.

But she has been concerned in controversy, going through a sexual harassment scandal in 2014 after photographs emerged of her hugging and kissing a male determine skater over 20 years her junior.

The skater mentioned he didn’t suppose he had been harassed by the married Hashimoto, who apologized for any “misunderstanding” brought on by the photographs.

Keiko Kojima, an essayist and commentator on gender points in Japan, mentioned Hashimoto would wish to deal with that controversy head-on.

“If she properly addresses that and her thoughts on gender equality as she takes up the post, then I think it will be fine,” Kojima informed AFP.

Hashimoto’s nomination comes after Mori’s try to handpick his successor — he proposed an 84-year-old ex-footballer — was nixed following public criticism.

Kojima mentioned the method that resulted in Hashimoto’s choice had been clear and “worthy of praise”.

The former minister had reportedly been reluctant to tackle the job, and she is going to face an uphill battle to win over the general public on the Games, that are attributable to open on July 23.

Polls present round 80 % of individuals in Japan again both cancellation or additional postponement.

Organizers have tried to quell the disquiet by releasing virus rulebooks — however doubts persist, with Tokyo and different areas presently beneath a Covid-19 state of emergency.

The first Olympic check occasion of 2021 has already been postponed due to tightened border restrictions beneath the measures.

“There are only five months to go, and putting on a safe and secure Games is going to be of utmost importance, with the understanding of the people of Japan,” Endo mentioned earlier Thursday.

Ex-Tokyo 2020 chief Mori, a former prime minister, resigned after domestic and international outcry over remarks he made in early February to members of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

He apologized for the sexist remarks whereas insisting he was repeating complaints made by others, however then dug a deeper gap when he defined that he “doesn’t speak to women much.”

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