TOKYO - Corporate sponsors, volunteers and torchbearers for this summer's Tokyo Games have welcomed the selection of Japan's former Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto as the new head of the organizing committee, with many praising the choice as suitable.
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., one of the top sponsors of the Olympics, said Thursday he "sincerely welcomes" Hashimoto to the position.
Toyoda had been among those to criticize the former head of the committee Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old former Japanese prime minister, for saying at a Japanese Olympic Committee gathering on Feb. 3 that meetings with women tend to "drag on" because they talk too much.
Mori resigned Friday after drawing criticism at home and abroad. Toyoda also expressed discontent with the situation surrounding the change of personnel, saying the athletes and public were "absent" from the process.
"Us sponsors have been receiving strong opinions (from the public) about the matter," he said.
Other corporate sponsors of the Olympics were also supportive of Hashimoto taking the helm, with many expressing hopes she will regain trust from the public following Mori's controversial remarks.
"I would like her to demonstrate leadership that will unite Japan into 'one team,'" said an official from Ajinomoto Co.
Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian, has said preparing effective measures against the novel coronavirus is the "most important" task and pledged to stage a "safe and secure" games this summer.
Yoshiko Urushidate, 50, who has signed up as a volunteer for the games, said Hashimoto is a good pick due to her experience as a medalist and female politician.
"I hope she works to make the event one that athletes can feel comfortable attending. I want to be involved in any way in bringing smiles to the athletes and spectators," Urushidate said.
Musashi Yamada, a 37-year-old Olympic torchbearer from Shimogo, Fukushima Prefecture, said he felt too much of a fuss was made over Mori's comments, although he did acknowledge they were "not good."
Regarding the torch relay to begin in just over a month at the J-Village soccer training center in the prefecture, Yamada said, "My hope of showing the flame to children and locals while conveying the charms of my town has not changed."
Akiko Mita, a 35-year-old housewife from Saitama Prefecture, sympathized with the difficult role Hashimoto will have in the lead-up to the games but said she felt Hashimoto "was appointed to appease the world" after Yoshiro Mori's sexist comments.
But other members of the public were less positive about Hashimoto due to her strong political connections with Mori and an accusation of sexual harassment published in a weekly magazine in 2014.
"Someone who could have been assessed objectively other than a former Olympian or politician would have been a better choice," said a 56-year-old nurse from Tokyo's Minato Ward.