Olympian and lawmaker Hashimoto has baby girl

Seiko Hashimoto, a member of the House of Councilors from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, gave birth to a baby girl early Wednesday at a Tokyo hospital, her secretaries said.

Hashimoto, an Olympic medalist, delivered the 2.975-kg baby at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday. Both the baby and the mother were fine, the secretaries said.

Hashimoto, 35, attended the Upper House plenary session Tuesday and was admitted to the hospital that night.

The lawmaker married Katsuhiko Ishizaki, 44, a policeman at the Metropolitan Police Department, in December 1998. She announced her pregnancy in January.

Following the announcement, a nonpartisan group of female members of the Upper House, discovering there was no system to allow maternity leave to Diet members, proposed revising house provisions to add childbirth to the list of legitimate reasons for members to be absent from the legislature.

The proposal was adopted in March.

Hashimoto became the second Diet member in postwar history to have a baby while in office. The first, Tenkoko Matsutani, the wife of former Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda, gave birth in 1950.

Hashimoto took part in seven Olympic Games, starting in 1984 — four times as a speed skater and three as a cyclist. She won the bronze medal in the women’s 1,500-meter speed skating event at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games.

She entered politics in 1995 when she was elected to the Upper House.