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Former athlete Hashimoto made Japanese Olympics minister

Seiko Hashimoto, a female Japanese lawmaker and former Olympian, has been appointed the country’s new Olympics minister in a cabinet reshuffle by prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Hashimoto is currently a lawmaker in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, vice president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and president of the Japanese Skating Association. She has previously served as a Tokyo 2020 executive board member.

Hashimoto takes over the Olympics minister role from Shunichi Suzuki. She will oversee the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, that begin on July 24 next year.

Hashimoto represented Japan at seven Olympic Games, from Sarajevo 1984 to Atlanta 1996, as a speed skater and a cyclist. She won a bronze medal in 1,500m speed skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. She was already a member of parliament when she competed in Atlanta as  a cyclist.

Reuters reports that the former athlete was named after the Olympic flame, when she was born just before Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964. Her first name, Seiko, is close to the Japanese for “Olympic flame”, seika.

In her new role, Hashimoto will also serve as Japan’s minister of women’s empowerment.