Trump picks Bill Hagerty as ambassador to Japan

The White House announced Thursday that Bill Hagerty, former commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development, will be nominated as U.S. ambassador to Japan by President Trump.

Excerpt from the Japan Times report:

Hagerty, 57, who as director of presidential appointments helped select Cabinet members and other administration personnel, is expected to assume the diplomatic post following Senate approval. He will succeed Caroline Kennedy, who left Tokyo in January.

Hagerty will handle a host of bilateral issues ranging from the Trump administration’s calls to further open Japan’s automobile and agriculture markets to the stalled relocation of a U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture. Trump has pledged to strengthen the security alliance with Japan, saying it is “the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region.”

…Hagerty is the co-founder of Hagerty Peterson and Co., a private equity firm based in suburban Chicago. He began his career with the Boston Consulting Group in 1984 and spent three years in Japan managing the firm’s business with Western clients throughout Japan and Asia.

In its announcement of Trump’s selection, the White House said Hagerty had served as chief executive and on the board of directors of companies with “extensive operations in Asia and Europe.”

He has also built ties with Japan through his work as commissioner of economic development for Tennessee from 2011 to 2015.

“During his tenure, Tennessee was the top state for jobs and economic growth from 2013 to 2015 and led the nation in foreign direct investment, 60 percent of which came from Japan,” according to the White House.

In his capacity, Hagerty assisted operations in his home state by Japanese companies such as Nissan Motor Co. and Bridgestone Corp.

Hagerty is said to have close ties with the Republican establishment, partly because he worked for the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He also served under the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

In Tokyo, the Japanese government welcomed the choice of Hagerty, citing his close ties with Trump and experience living in Japan.

“We look forward to Mr. Hagerty arriving in Japan after his confirmation and working on further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a news conference.

Note: Here’s a prepared statement sent to media by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“There’s no more important two-country relationship than the one between the United States and Japan, and no state has a closer relationship with Japan than Tennessee has had. Bill Hagerty has been an integral part of that, having lived and worked in Japan and having served with distinction as our state’s Economic and Community Development commissioner. This is one of the president’s most important appointments and an outstanding choice.”

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