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Hagerty’s ex-manager describes new U.S. ambassador as bridge builder, not tough negotiator

JIJI

William Hagerty, who might assume his post as U.S. ambassador to Japan as early as next month, is expected to be a bridge builder rather than a tough negotiator, one of his former bosses says.

In a recent interview, Japanese management consultant Koichi Hori said he does not expect Hagerty, 57, to be a tough negotiator who will demand compromises on trade but a good coordinator who can act as a bridge between Japan and the United States.

Hori, 72, described Hagerty as “a gentleman and sophisticated.”

Hagerty spent about three years in Japan from the late 1980s to the early 1990s working for the Boston Consulting Group. According to Hori, who was manager of the group’s Japan branch at the time, Hagerty asked to work in Japan.

“He worked seriously but was not exceptionally outstanding,” Hori said, looking back on Hagerty’s performance.

Hagerty seems to have been offered a Cabinet post but applied to be ambassador instead, according to Hori.

“I think he grew fond of the Japanese people after three years staying in Japan,” Hori said, adding that he has stronger feelings for Japan than his predecessor Caroline Kennedy did when she began her stint in November 2013 under former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hori said he believes that Hagerty, thanks to his honest personality, will be able to serve as the face of the United States in Japan and “neutralize” the negative image of U.S. President Donald Trump, who is known for his controversial words and actions.

Hori advised the Japanese government to explain its stance to the new ambassador squarely and honestly.