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Japanese Prime Minister-elect Suga to keep Hashimoto as Olympics Minister

by ZwemZa on September 15th, 2020

Seiko Hashimoto looks set to continue in her role as Olympics Minister through to Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Yoshihide Suga, who is set to succeed outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, has announced that he will be retaining many members of the Cabinet including Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto.

If approved by the Japanese Parliament tomorrow, Suga will become the new leader of the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, after Abe resigned last month due to health reasons.

The Parliament vote is expected to be a formality due to the majority enjoyed by Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Suga became President of the LDP following a leadership election yesterday, confirming his status as Abe’s successor.

Hashimoto is expected to keep her position as Olympics Minister, days after she claimed that Tokyo 2020 should go ahead at “any cost” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an expected reshuffle of the Cabinet, reports suggest that the Health Minister, Katsunobu Kato, will become the new chief cabinet secretary – Suga’s former role.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Finance Minister Taro Aso are also expected to keep their jobs.

Tokyo 2020 was pushed back a year due to COVID-19 and the Olympics are now expected to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

The Paralympics have been scheduled for August 24 to September 5 with officials in Japan facing a huge task or reorganisation.

Hashimoto was appointed to her position in September 2019 after moving into politics following her career as an athlete.

She has the most Olympic appearances of any Japanese athlete, representing the country as a speed skater in four consecutive Winter Games from 1984 to 1994 and as a cyclist in three consecutive Summer Games from 1988 to 1996.

She won a bronze medal in the 1500 metres speed skating event at Albertville 1992.

Hashimoto was also Japan’s Chef de Mission at two Winter Olympic Games – Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 – and one Summer Games – Rio 2016.

She is also President of the Japan Skating Federation.

Other changes to the Cabinet include a possible move for Defence Minster Taro Kono, according to Kyodo News.

He could become Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications.

Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother who was adopted by their aunt and uncle, could replace Kono in his previous position.

Norihisa Tamura is set to return as Health Minister – a position he held from 2012 to 2014 too.

Michael Houston | Inside the Games

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