Bill Hagerty to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan

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Nashville businessman Bill Hagerty is officially President Donald Trump’s choice to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, according to a White House announcement Thursday evening.

The appointment will bring Hagerty — a private equity investor who has held a key position in Trump’s transition — to a country where he has strong ties, having lived and worked there in the past.

Hagerty, 57, served as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development under Republican Gov. Bill Haslam from 2011 to 2014. In that time, he helped orchestrate multiple business deals between the state and Japanese companies, including Bridgestone Americas, CalsonicKansei North America Inc. and Nissan North America.

Previously in the private sector, Hagerty spent time in Tokyo for three years while with the Boston Consulting Group, a business consulting firm. There, he was senior expatriate responsible for managing Boston Consulting’s western clients in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

The Tennessean first reported Hagerty’s likely nomination in January.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the nomination and noted that Japan is one of America’s most critical allies.

“I have worked alongside Bill to negotiate significant foreign direct investment that has generated positive, material impact on the lives of thousands of people and in our economy,” Corker said in a statement. “He is a highly competent leader with exceptional negotiating skills that will serve America’s interests and our relationship with the Japanese people well.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted that no state has had a closer relationship with Japan than Tennessee.

“Bill Hagerty has been an integral part of that, having lived and worked in Japan and having served with distinction as our state’s Economic and Community Development commissioner,” he said. “This is one of the president’s most important appointments and an outstanding choice.”

Hagerty is the managing director of Hagerty Peterson and Company LLC, which has offices in Nashville and Chicago. This year, he also joined the private investment firm Hall Capital.

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