Senate Confirms Nashvillian Bill Hagerty to Serve as the Next U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Posted on July 13, 2017

Senator Lamar Alexander: “Bill Hagerty is one of President Trump’s best nominations”

Video of Senator Alexander’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on his vote to confirm Nashvillian Bill Hagerty to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

“Bill Hagerty is headed to Japan not only able to speak the language, but having lived and worked there, and understanding how close ties between Japan and the United States can create bigger paychecks for Americans as well as for the Japanese. The ambassador to Japan is one of the most important positions – there’s a reason why we’ve had such a distinguished list of ambassadors since World War II, including our former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, Jr. from Tennessee. We are fortunate Bill Hagerty will be added to that list.”

Alexander called Hagerty an “outstanding choice” after President Trump announced his nomination on March 23.

On May 18, Alexander introduced Hagerty at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and said in his remarks, “I’m here today to strongly and respectfully recommend to the committee that it approve the president’s nomination of Bill Hagerty to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.”

Alexander continued, “In 2013, when Bill Hagerty was the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development for Tennessee, he gave a speech entirely in Japanese at the American Embassy in Tokyo. Now, I’ve looked it up, there have been 16 United States Ambassadors to Tokyo, a very distinguished group since World War II: a five star general, two former Senate Majority Leaders, a former Vice President of the United States, and a former Speaker of the House, the daughter of a former president, and so far as I know, none of them were able to do what Bill Hagerty did in 2013 when he made that speech entirely in Japanese at the American Embassy in Tokyo. That’s just one reason why I think Bill Hagerty is one of President Trump’s best nominations.”

You can watch Alexander’s floor remarks from today here or read them as prepared below:

I’m here today to strongly and respectfully recommend that the Senate approve the president’s nomination of Bill Hagerty as ambassador to Japan.

In 2013, when Bill Hagerty was the commissioner of economic development for Tennessee, he gave a speech entirely in Japanese at the American embassy in Tokyo. Now, I’ve looked it up, there have been 16 United States Ambassadors to Tokyo, a very distinguished group since World War II: a five star general, 2 former Senate Majority Leaders, a former Vice President of the United States, and a former Speaker of the House, the daughter of a former president, and so far as I know, none of them were able to do what Bill Hagerty did in 2013 when he made a speech entirely in Japanese’s at the American Embassy in Tokyo.

That’s just one reason why I think Bill Hagerty is one of President Trump’s best appointments.

He was born in Tennessee, graduated from Vanderbilt University, he was associate editor of the law review, he worked as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. During his final 3 years there he lived in Tokyo and he served as senior executive managing their clients around Asia.

He was selected by President George H.W. Bush to be on his staff, there he worked on trade, commerce, defense, and telecommunications issues.

He was a White House fellow.

He was founder and chairman of a company in private life that became the third largest medical research company.

He founded his own private equity and investment firm.

From 2011-2015 he was the commissioner of economic and community development for Tennessee and in that role. Working with Governor Haslam, secured $15 billion in investments and 90,000 jobs for our state. 2 of those years Tennessee was the number 1 state for economic development and number 1 state for job creation through Foreign Direct Investment.

He is a distinguished Eagle Scout, he was head of a capital campaign for the scouts.

He served on the board for the Far East Council of the scouts, encouraging growth of Boy Scouts throughout Asia.

One way he intends to continue that mission is that his two sons will join their respective troops in Japan following his confirmation.

And, his wife Chrissy would want me to quickly add that there are two aspiring Girl Scouts in their family who will have their time to do that too.

It’s not only one of the best appointments but one of most important.

There’s a reason why we’ve had such a distinguished list of ambassadors since World War II including our former majority leader Howard Baker from Tennessee.

Mike Mansfield, another former majority leader who was ambassador, used to say in every speech he made that the Japanese-American alliance is the most important two-country relationship in the world bar none.

Ambassador Mansfield said that so often that Americans in Tokyo used to refer to our embassy as the “Bar-None Ranch.”

If you’ll permit a little parochialism Mr. Hagerty comes from a state, Tennessee that has the most important relationship with Japan of any state, bar none.

That began about 40 years ago, I remember President Carter saying to me as a new governor and to the other governors, “go to Japan, persuade them to make here what they sell here.”

Off we all went, during my first 24 months as governor I spent 3 weeks in Japan and 8 weeks on Japan-American relations. I explained to Tennesseans that I thought I could do more good for our state in Japan than I could in Washington, D.C.

That turned out to be true, Nissan, Bridgestone, Komatsu, other companies came.

By the mid-80s we had about 10% of all the Japanese capital investment in the United States, this has continued, Nissan and Bridgestone have North America’s largest auto plants, tire plants in Tennessee.

And, with Mr. Hagerty’s help, Bridgestone as well as Nissan has decided to locate its North American headquarters in our state.

So, Bill Hagerty, if approved by the Senate, would go to Japan not only able to speak the language but having lived and worked there, an understanding how close ties between Japan and United States can create bigger paychecks for Americans as well as for the Japanese.

My hope is that the Senate will promptly approve his nomination and that he will soon be on his job and his children will be in their respective scout troops in Japan.