Tennessee businessman Bill Hagerty chosen to be ambassador


Tennessee businessman Bill Hagerty is officially President Donald Trump’s choice to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

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 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. 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.

“He is a highly competent leader with exceptional negotiating skills that will serve America’s interests and our relationship with the Japanese people well,” Corker said.

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

“This is one of the president’s most important appointments and an outstanding choice,” he said.

Hagerty is the managing director of Hagerty Peterson and Company LLC, which has offices in Nashville and Chicago.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hagerty wouldn’t be the first Tennessean to serve as the Japanese ambassador. Former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, R Tenn., who died in 2014, was ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. Luke Edward White, who was born in Giles County, served in the post from 1906 to 1907 under President Teddy Roosevelt. Hagerty could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by ARIANA MAIA SAWYER

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org

Back to News Listing