Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympian cyclist and speed skater who won record-breaking victories at home and abroad, may set another record by becoming the first member of the Upper House to give birth while the Diet is in session. The 35-year-old lawmaker, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, is expecting a baby in April, her office announced Monday. The next ordinary session starts Thursday and is scheduled to end June 17. The Secretariat of the Upper House said that since it has no records of members taking pregnancy leave, Hashimoto will probably be the first to have a baby as an Upper House member. According to the secretariat, only three women were in their 30s when they were initially elected to the Upper House. The Lower House secretariat, noting that it has not preserved any records of that kind, said that it cannot recall any female Diet member having had a baby during a Diet session. In December 1998, Hashimoto married Diet bodyguard Katsuhiko Ishizaki. Hashimoto, however, continued to use her popular surname at the Diet and became the first female Upper House member allowed to use her maiden name in the chamber, despite having a different name on her family registration. In that sense, Hashimoto may be a pioneer. Female representatives occupy only 9 percent of the 752 seats in the two chambers. But officials at her office said she decided to continue to use her maiden name simply because she was elected under it. In a written statement released to the media Monday, Hashimoto said, “As a Diet member as well as a mother, I’m determined to do my best.”

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