Trends in Japan

Now Diet Member, Seiko Hashimoto Returns to Active Competition

JULY 1, 1996

Atlanta Makes it Seven!
House of Councillors member Seiko Hashimoto was selected in mid-May to represent Japan at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, becoming the first serving member of the National Diet to compete in the Games.

The 31-year-old Hashimoto will compete in two cycling events: women's sprint and the 3,000 meters individual pursuit. For Hashimoto, this will be her seventh Olympic appearance, a record for a Japanese athlete.

Hashimoto was born in Hokkaido on October 5, 1964, five days before the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Her first Olympic appearance was as a speed skater at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo.

In the Calgary Games in 1988 she placed sixth or better in all skating events she entered, and she won the bronze medal in the 1,500 meter event in Albertville in 1992, making her the first Japanese Olympic medal winner. In Lillehammer in 1994 she placed sixth in the 3,000 meters event.

As a cyclist, she competed in successive Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.

(Photo: Kyodo)

Combining Politics and Sport
Hashimoto was elected to the Upper House in July 1995 on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket. Since that time she has followed a rigorous schedule, combining her life as a Diet member and sportswoman.

While the Diet is in session, she rises every morning at 4 a.m. for two hours of cycling practice along the Tama River near her home. She arrives at the Diet at 8 a.m. for her various official duties there, including her responsibilities as a member of the Committee on Construction. In the evenings she applies herself to weight training.

The current Diet session, convened in January this year, will continue until June 19. However if the session is extended, there is a possibility of an overlap with her Atlanta Games schedule. Hashimoto was vexed by this. "There were times I thought I should retire from Olympic competition." However, she has now resolved to compete.

"The promotion of sport and the development of welfare are my duties as a Diet member, so I rethought my stance. Now I believe I can achieve those objectives by continuing to compete."

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