A Senate confirmation hearing for US President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Japan took place on Thursday. It was the first opportunity for William Hagerty to lay out his vision to develop the United States relationship with Japan. NHK World's Moshe Komata reported on the story.
As a former economic advisor to former President George Bush Sr., Williams Hagerty is well-versed in finance. He wants to use his new role to increase business between the two countries.
"I would also aim to support new trade opportunities and enhanced access for US firms in the Japanese market to narrow the overall deficit with Japan," he said.
Hagerty's relationship with Japan dates back 3 decades, when he spent 3 years in Tokyo working for a private consulting firm.
"That time in Tokyo brought home to me our two countries' shared economic interests and security priorities, while affording me lasting friendships and deep appreciation of Japanese culture," said Hagerty.
His former Tokyo supervisor thinks this experience will be vital in his new position.
"He's different from what Japanese think Typical American. Typical American is stand-play, pushy and you know. Action-oriented and so on," says Koichi Hori, chairman of Dream Incubator.
It's an attitude that will be useful, especially after President Trump pulled out of the Tran-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. He now says he wants a bilateral deal that emphasizes America first.
"If the president is very pushy to Japan. I think Bill will tell the President that's not the way you should think, that's not the way you should behave, because that simply makes Japanese upset and angry, and it won't help Americans at all," says Hori.
Hagerty will be coming to Japan at a time when tensions are rising on the Korean peninsula. He says the US-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region.
"This commitment is more critical than ever in the face of fast-emerging security challenges including North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs," he said.
An advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was at Thursday's senate hearing. He hopes Hagerty's appointment becomes official.
"We hope he will come to japan as ambassador as soon as possible," said Katsuyuki Kawai, Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.
If approved, Hagerty could start as early as this summer.