20 May 2017

News Story: US envoy pick stresses 'ironclad' commitment to Japan alliance

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan-designate William Hagerty on Thursday underscored Washington's "ironclad" commitment to its alliance with Japan, calling it "the cornerstone of regional peace and security" and "a platform for global cooperation."

"This commitment is more critical than ever in the face of fast-emerging security challenges, including North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs, as well as China's assertive behavior in the East and South China seas," Hagerty said at his senate confirmation hearing.

Hagerty, a Tennessee businessman who served as a key member of President Donald Trump's transition team, said that if confirmed, he would aim to support new trade opportunities and enhanced access for U.S. firms in the Japanese market to narrow the overall deficit with Japan.

Hagerty, 57, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that he "will support U.S. efforts to tap export opportunities in agriculture, defense, manufacturing, traded services, and what I see as a major emerging opportunity in the energy sector."

Echoing the Trump administration's accusation that Tokyo maintains nontariff barriers for its automobile market, Hagerty said structural issues such as what he called a complex distribution system in Japan and its refusal to accept U.S. safety standards have made it difficult for U.S. automakers to penetrate into the Japanese market.

The ambassador-in-waiting said he thinks that U.S. exports of energy such as liquid natural gas to Japan could significantly cut into the trade deficit.

Read the full story at The Mainichi