December 23 - Seiko Hashimoto, a former speed skater and cyclist who competed at seven Olympic Games, is being touted as a potential candidate to be the next Governor of Tokyo as urgency to make an appointment grows for the sake of preparations for Tokyo 2020.
After being in office for barely a year, Naoki Inose resigned lastn Thursday (December 19) following his involvement in a corruption scandal after he illegally accepted a loan from hospital group Tokushukai.
Inose belatedly resigned to avoid "stalling preparations" for 2020 any longer but after a month long feud since the allegations first surfaced it seems inevitable that the formation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee has already been delayed.
Whoever is appointed to succeed Inose will be immediately under pressure to resume these preparations and, amid much speculation, Hashimoto's name is on a lengthy list of early potential candidates.
After a sporting career highlighted by a bronze medal at Albertville 1992 in the 1500 metres speed skating, the 49-year old was elected to the House of Councillors in 1995 and has since served in a variety of roles as part of the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP).
Tokyo has never had a female Governor but, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to expand opportunities for women in the workforce, Defence Minister Yuriko Koike and newscaster-turned-politician Tamayo Marukawa are two other potential female replacements.
Other names in the frame include the Minister in charge of the Olympic Games, Hakubun Shimomura, and Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara, the son of Inose's equally controversial predecessor as Governor Shintaro Ishihara.
The incoming Governor will have to immediately delve into reviewing ¥10.3 billion ($98.9 million/£61 billion/€72 billion) in proposed Olympics-related funding before sending the draft budget to the City Assembly in February.
After criticisms both of its size and cost, negotiations with the Central Government over the funding and construction of the New National Stadium appears another pressing issue.
Parties have around two weeks to finalise their candidates before a by-election expected to take place early in February.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) remain confident that preparations remain on course.
"The Organising Committee should be established during the five months following the election of the city at the IOC Session, as this is part of the agreement between the host city, the National Olympic Committee and the IOC," an IOC statement to Kyodo News insisted.
"At this point in time, we have no reason to believe that this will not be the case in Tokyo."
It has been announced Tokyo Vice-Governor Toshiyuki Akiyama will fill the void to takeover these Olympic and Paralympic preparations on a temporary basis until the new Governor is appointed.
This was confirmed by Shimomura, together with bid leader, and Japanese Olympic Committee President, Tsunekazu Takeda.
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