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Donald Trump

Trump to choose businessman William Hagerty as next US ambassador to Japan

Hagerty, a Tennessee native, spent several years in Japan with the Boston Consulting Group management consultancy and later served in the White House of former President George H.W. Bush

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 11:02am

US president-elect Donald Trump plans to pick businessman William Hagerty as the next US ambassador to Japan, an adviser to Trump’s transition team said on Wednesday.

Japan’s Nikkei news service reported that Trump would soon announce the choice of Hagerty, the director of presidential appointments in his transition team.

The boys at the US Defence Department and the Defence Agency may be disappointed because of his lack of experience
A long-time US resident of Tokyo

An adviser confirmed the Nikkei report on condition of anonymity.

Hagerty is a Tennessee native who founded a private equity firm, Hagerty Peterson. He spent several years in Japan with the Boston Consulting Group management consultancy and later served in the White House of former President George H.W. Bush.

He will replace Caroline Kennedy, who has held the position since 2013.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, declined to comment on the report since the choice has yet to be formally announced, saying only that he hoped the new ambassador would be able to develop a friendly US-Japan relationship.

But others said the choice suggests Trump is prioritising economics in bilateral ties, a potential relief for officials concerned by his protectionist stance on trade during the presidential campaign.

Japanese companies play a key role in the US economy, employing more than 800,000 American workers. They contributed US$78 billion to US exports in 2014, according to the US Embassy in Tokyo.

A long-time US resident of Tokyo with knowledge of business and politics who knows Hagerty by reputation, but not personally, said he had a reputation as a “typical management consultant – logical, thoughtful, and has no patience for trade rhetoric”.

The news was likely reassure officials at the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI) as well as the Ministry of Finance (MOF), he added.

“The boys at the US Defence Department and the Defence Agency may be disappointed because of his lack of experience in the geopolitical aspects of the US-Japan relationship, but METI, MOF and everyone else here in Tokyo should be breathing a sign of relief,” he added.

Japan’s Defence Ministry was formerly called the Defence Agency.