All Saturday morning papers carried extensive reports on the White House announcement on Thursday that President Trump will nominate William Hagerty as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan. Asahi wrote that Hagerty is well-versed in economic issues and Japanese affairs. He is reportedly expected to act as a mediator between President Trump and Japan for the U.S.-Japan economic dialogue set to begin in April, during which the two nations will probably be at odds over such issues as automobiles and agriculture. The papers wrote that Hagerty lived in Tokyo for three years when he was working for the Boston Consulting Group. Noting that he has been involved in investment negotiations with Japanese firms, Asahi speculated that Hagerty was chosen because of his negotiating skills and knowledge about Japanese corporations. Yomiuri wrote that Hagerty has broad connections within the Republican Party and will be able to communicate directly with the President, White House staff, and members of the cabinet. The paper added that Hagerty is a long-time acquaintance of Secretary Tillerson because they are both involved in Boy Scouts of America activities. Asahi pointed out, however, that he has no experience in security issues and it remains to be seen how much influence he will be able to exert on matters involving North Korea and China. Nikkei said a diplomatic source pointed out that Hagerty’s nomination reflects the Trump administration’s intention to deepen economic relations with Japan. The paper also quoted Akihiko Yasui of the Mizuho Research Institute as saying that the relatively early announcement of the nomination by the Trump administration shows that “U.S.-Japan relations have gotten off to a fairly good start.”
Yomiuri said the GOJ is pleased with Hagerty’s nomination and is aiming to quickly build a relationship of trust with the new U.S. ambassador. The paper quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as telling reporters on Friday: “He is greatly trusted by President Trump and has experience living in Japan. We welcome the nomination.” Noting that it has been pointed out that some members of the Trump administration seem to have misunderstandings about U.S. trade with Japan, the paper said the GOJ is hoping to call for U.S. understanding for Japan’s efforts through Hagerty from now on. Nikkei said that Hagerty apparently has an affinity for Japan as he enjoys watching sumo wrestling and two of his children take karate lessons. The paper said he also frequently visits Japan with his family on vacation. According to the papers, Hagerty had been hoping to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan.