The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games Organising Committee launched a new team to promote gender equality on Thursday. The Organising Committee’s (OC) new president Seiko Hashimoto, who replaced Yoshiro Mori last week, told journalists a day before the launch that the group will be led by OC sports director Kotani Mikako, a two-time Olympic medallist in artistic swimming.
"We want to spark a movement among all stakeholders," Hashimoto said, putting it across clearly that she wanted to improve the gender balance. "We as the Organising Committee can do more on gender equality."
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Hashimoto was speaking to the media in Tokyo after a video conference with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board.
A seven-time Olympian in speed skating and track cycling, Hashimoto had served as Japan's Minister-in-Charge of Women's Empowerment and the country's Minister of State for Gender Equality. She was also Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"All of us can educate ourselves better. As the Sports Director (Kotani) said, we have done a lot of work on diversity and inclusion for these Games but we have not been able to convey that to the public as well as we would like," she reiterated.
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Hashimoto said that the aim was to get women in at least 40 percent of the Organising Committee.
"The theme is meaningful to a lot of people and hopefully we can - and we will - send that message as it deserves," Hashimoto said.
The Games organising committee is just a small reflection of the larger malaise in Japanese society. Gender inequality is rampant in Japan. Women are largely not present in the political sphere and boardrooms in Japan. The country stands 121st out of 153 in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality rankings.
Hashimoto and Co. are hoping that the movement they start in the organising committee will act as inspiration for a larger change in the Japanese society.
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