Seiko Hashimoto, a Japanese politician and seven-time Olympian, has been appointed president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee.
Hashimoto will replace 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese Prime Minister, who was forced to resign after making sexist comments about women in boardrooms.
Mori was quoted as saying in a meeting last week that “board of directors meetings with many women take a lot of time.”
“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” Mori said, according to local news reports.
“We have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat – they have difficulty finishing.”
Hashimoto, who was appointed to the role after a meeting of Tokyo Olympic committee’s executive board, which is 80 per cent male, had been serving as the Olympic minister in the current Prime Minister’s cabinet. She is one of just two women to serve in Japan’s 21-member cabinet.
She held a portfolios focused on the Olympics, and on gender equality and women’s empowerment. In 2000, Hashimoto became the first MP to receive maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter.
“I’ll work closely with my new successor the new minister so we can create the organising committee that will be trusted by both domestic and international audiences,” she said.
“I want to [make sure that] the diversity and harmony is the major spirit guiding the Tokyo games.
“We should create a society that can live in harmony and I hope that will be a legacy for the future.”
Hashimoto’s appointment comes just one day after Japan’s governing party found itself in hot water for inviting five women into a party meeting but then told them they could only “look, don’t speak.”
“With the appointment of a woman as President, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee is also sending a very important signal with regard to gender equality,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee said following Hashimoto’s appointment.
Hashimoto is considered one of Japan’s most successful athletes. She took part in four Winter Olympics as a speed skater and three Summer Olympics as a cyclist.