WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to name Hudson Institute President Kenneth Weinstein as ambassador to Japan, informed sources said Thursday.
Weinstein is said to have close relations with both Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He joined the Hudson Institute, a conservative U.S. think tank, in 1991 and assumed his current post in March 2011.
The institute has been influential in U.S. political and business circles as a think tank with a close relationship to the Trump administration.
Weinstein often visited Japan to hold talks with Abe and Taro Kono when he was foreign minister. This summer, he launched the institute’s Japan Chair and appointed H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser to Trump, as head of the new division.
A source familiar with the situation said that Weinstein is the best choice for boosting Japan-U.S. relations.
The government contributed some ¥560 million from the fiscal 2018 supplementary budget to the institute to establish the new division, with an aim to promote the dispatch of information for stronger ties with the United States and to boost its influence in U.S. decision-making.
William Hagerty, founder of an American investment firm, had been Washington’s top envoy in Japan since 2017, but the post has been vacant since he resigned in July to run for the Senate next year. Joseph Young, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, has assumed the duties as the embassy’s charge d’affaires on an interim basis.
Approval from the Senate is needed before Weinstein can take office.