TOKYO - A senior International Olympic Committee official praised Tokyo on Friday for the number of women on its organising committee's executive board as Japan, long a male-dominated society, prepares for the 2020 Summer Games.
The 34-member board set up last month has seven female members, or 21 per cent of the total - just above the IOC's goal to have at least a fifth of leadership positions in national committees staffed by women.
Japan has long lagged behind other rich nations in terms of the number of women occupying senior business and government positions, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to change that as part of a wider bid to stimulate the world's third-largest economy.
And there have been signs of change with Japan's biggest brokerage Nomura Holdings saying last month it had chosen a woman to head its banking arm, in what is believed to be a first for the country's male-dominated financial sector.
The IOC coordination commission and Tokyo's organising committee, led by former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, held talks in the capital this week to prepare for the global event in six years' time.
It was the first such meeting since Tokyo won the bid for the 2020 Games last September.
"We congratulated President Mori on the composition of the executive board," John Coates, head of the IOC commission, said after a three-day meeting.
"Diversity, gender balance is very important to us. The (2012) Olympic Games in London saw 46 per cent of the competitors were women," he said.
"Who knows? By the time we get to Tokyo, we could be approaching 50-50. So it's important to us."
Six of the seven women on the Tokyo board are Olympians and Paralympians including double Olympic judo gold medallist Ayumi Tanimoto and 1976 Montreal Games volleyball gold medallist Yuko Arakida.