The Japanese government plans to name its ambassador to South Korea, Koji Tomita, as its new U.S. envoy, in the hope that the veteran diplomat will use his experience and personal connections to build ties with the next administration under President-elect Joe Biden, government sources said Monday.
Tomita had served as minister at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and headed the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau during the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama in which Biden served as vice president.
He will replace Shinsuke Sugiyama, the former top bureaucrat at the Foreign Ministry who has been in the post since January 2018 to strengthen Tokyo's ties with the administration of President Donald Trump.
Biden has picked longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, as national security adviser in the incoming administration. Both Blinken and Sullivan played significant roles in the Obama-Biden administration's foreign policy.
Tomita just became the ambassador to South Korea in October last year. As envoy to Seoul, he had faced challenges to mend bilateral ties that have sunk to a historic low over wartime labor and trade issues.
Tomita, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, is the son-in-law of the renowned novelist Yukio Mishima, who died in 1970.
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