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Much to be done on cyberterrorism and budget reduction for Tokyo 2020, new Olympics minister says

by Ryusei Takahashi

Staff Writer

There is still much to be done regarding heat prevention, cyberterrorism and budget reduction for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Seiko Hashimoto told a news conference Thursday, one day after she was appointed minister for the games in a major Cabinet reshuffle.

With the games less than a year away, questions are being raised about how she plans to deal with games-related issues, such as connecting the Olympics with the recovery of the Tohoku region from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, mitigating the risks of extreme summer heat and how to transform Tokyo into a safer, more accessible and inclusive city before the opening ceremony next July.

“The needs of athletes … is most important,” Hashimoto said. “To create and maintain an environment where the athletes can perform their very best, we need to take into account multiple factors and listen to the voices of athletes, staff, volunteers and everyone to address the problem.”

Hashimoto also became minister in charge of cybersecurity, female empowerment and gender equality in the reshuffle that saw two women appointed and 13 lawmakers receive their first Cabinet post.

Hashimoto discussed the possibility of terrorism and cybersecurity threats during the 2020 Games.

“To imagine the unimaginable, and change the unpredictable into what we can predict and therefore do what we can to prevent it: that’s my approach to terrorism prevention,” she said. “This is an extremely big issue with huge implications. I believe proper communication and information sharing will lead to prevention and the government has the responsibility to construct a comprehensive response plan.”

A former track cycling sprinter and an Olympic bronze medalist in speedskating, Hashimoto has made the most Olympic appearances of any Japanese athlete, having represented her country at four consecutive Winter Olympics from 1984 to 1994 and three consecutive Summer Games from 1988 to 1996.

The 54-year-old Hokkaido native served as president of the Japan Skating Federation, and is currently serving her fifth term as a representative in the House of Councilors as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party. She succeeded Shunichi Suzuki in the post.

“The Olympics and Paralympics are not about re-examining society, they’re about the future,” Hashimoto said. “The arenas and roads we build for these games could exist for 50, even 100 years from now and we can use this moment as a starting line to begin that work.”

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