Round-Up: Presentations of Credentials

Posted: 12:46 am ET
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People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

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VP Pence Swears-In U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty

Posted: 2:58 am ET
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U.S. Senate Confirms William F. Hagerty IV as U.S. Ambassador to Japan

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Posted: 1:59 am ET
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On July 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of William Hagerty IV to be the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. He succeeds Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (1957–) who served at the US Embassy Tokyo from November 19, 2013 to January 2017. See related posts:

Other previous appointees to this position include career and political appointees like Howard Henry Baker Jr. (1925–2014)Walter F. Mondale (1928–)Michael Joseph Mansfield (1903–2001)Douglas MacArthur II (1909–1997) and Ural Alexis Johnson (1908–1997) to name a few.

Only 6 of the last 15 appointments as Ambassador to Japan since the 1950’s were career diplomats:  Ural Alexis Johnson (1908–1997)Armin Henry Meyer (1914–2006)Douglas MacArthur II (1909–1997)John Moore Allison (1905–1978)Robert Daniel Murphy (1894–1978) and Michael Hayden Armacost (1937–).  According to history.state.gov, the last career diplomat sent as ambassador to Japan was Michael Hayden Armacost (1937–) who served from May 15, 1989–July 19, 1993. With the latest confirmation, it has now been 24 years since a career diplomat was appointed and confirmed as chief of mission at U.S. Embassy Tokyo.

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Trump Nominates William Francis Hagerty IV of Tennessee to be US Ambassador to Japan

Posted: 2:19 am ET
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On March 23, President Trump announced his intent to nominate William Francis Hagerty IV of Tennessee to be his ambassador to Japan. The WH released the following brief bio:

William Francis Hagerty IV of Tennessee to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan. Bill Hagerty began his career with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 1984 as an International Management Consultant and spent three years in Japan managing BCG’s business with western clients throughout Japan and Asia. In 1991, Mr. Hagerty moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a White House Fellow reporting to the Vice President and focusing on international trade, commerce, treasury, defense, and telecom. Mr. Hagerty returned to the private sector in 1993 and served as CEO and board member of companies with extensive operations in Asia and Europe. From 2011 to 2015, Mr. Hagerty served in the Tennessee Governor’s Cabinet as Secretary for Trade and Commerce. During his tenure, Tennessee was the top state for jobs and economic growth from 2013 to 2015 and led the nation in foreign direct investment, 60% of which came from Japan.  Mr. Hagerty has BS and JD degrees from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife, Chrissy, live in Nashville with their four children.

US Ambassador’s House, Tokyo, Japan (Photo via State/OBO)

Additional details from his online bio:

In July of 2016, Bill Hagerty took a leave of absence from Hagerty Peterson to serve as Director of Presidential Appointments for the 2016 Trump Presidential Transition Team, where he is responsible for the planning and execution of the process to effect the largest leadership transition in the world – one that ultimately encompasses over 4,000 Presidential Appointments.

A native of Tennessee, Mr. Hagerty attended Vanderbilt University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Economics. He then attended Vanderbilt Law School as a Wilson Scholar and was elected to the Law Review where he served as Associate Editor.

Hagerty Peterson & Company, LLC where Mr. Hagerty is founder and Managing Director has an extensive biography here.

If confirmed, Mr. Hagerty would succeed Caroline Kennedy who was appointed as President Obama’s Ambassador to Japan from November 12, 2013 until January 18, 2017. Other predecessors to this position at US Embassy Tokyo include Douglas MacArthur IIU. Alexis JohnsonMike Mansfield, and Walter Mondale.

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Lonesome Rex to Make Inaugural Trip to Asia Without His Traveling Press?

Posted: 2:37 am ET
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Secretary Tillerson knew when he took this job that he would be the face and the voice of America to the world. That includes talking to the press, and more importantly answering questions from the press corps. We get that he’s new at this but he better get it together fast; he’s now one of our most prominent public servants, and he cannot continue to evade the press and avoid answering questions without running afoul of one of his three core principles.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell  has now been escorted twice out of a State Department presser. Reporters were also previously escorted out during the Lavrov-Tillerson meeting in Germany. We betcha when Secretary Tillerson starts talking to the press, reporters would not have to shout their questions during every 30-second photo-op. And now, we’re hearing that Secretary Tillerson is making his inaugural trip to Asia next week. He will be traveling with the new Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the EAP Bureau Susan Thornton who assumed post after Danny Russel’s recent departure.  According to the State Department, Secretary Tillerson will arrive in Tokyo on March 15, continue on to Seoul on March 17, and travel to Beijing on March 18 —  apparently without his traveling press.

Here is the official word on this according to the acting @StateDept spox, Mark Toner:

[W]ith respect to the trip to Asia, we’re still working out the logistics, so I really can’t say specifically or speak definitively, I guess, as to whether we will be able to accommodate any press on the Secretary’s plane. I think we’re all aware that it is a smaller plane for this particular trip. There will, as you know, going to – there will be some U.S. media who will be traveling to the destinations, each destination, and of course, we will do our utmost to support them at those destinations and provide whatever access we can.  And I think going forward, the State Department is doing everything it can to – and will do everything it can to accommodate a contingent of traveling media on board the Secretary’s plane.

Wait, Secretary Tillerson’s minders did not purposely select a smaller plane, did they?  The smaller plane excuse would only really work had Secretary Tillerson traveled with the full press during his trips to Mexico and Germany, then say, hey, can’t this time because we’re forced to use a smaller plane. But in Mexico, Secretary Tillerson reportedly only traveled with press pools, took a small plane and had one writer and one photographer. So this is starting to look like this could be the new normal.  If he can get away with not taking his traveling press this time, are we looking at our top diplomat ditching the press for good in the future?  This is, of course, worrisome coz how are we going to Make America Great Again if we can’t even provide a good size plane for our chief diplomat and his traveling press?

Folks, this doesn’t look good. You need to make this right. And hey, about the milkbox, does he have a favorite color?

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POTUS and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe Visit Pearl Harbor

Posted: 2:54 pm PT
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“As the prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war.  We must never repeat the horrors of war again.  This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken. And since the war, we have created a free and democratic country that values the rule of law and has resolutely upheld our vow never again to wage war.”

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President Obama Makes Historic Visit to Hiroshima, Now For the Trillion Dollar Question

Posted: 11:45 pm ET
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USG Supports Japan Relief Efforts Following Kyushu Earthquakes, Also What’s This Mystery Foam?

Posted: 12:02 am ET
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USGC reported the April 14 and 15 earthquakes that hit the island of Kyushu:

The April 15, 2016 M 7.0 earthquake north of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at shallow depth. Focal mechanisms for the earthquake indicate slip occurred on either a left-lateral fault striking to the northwest, or on a right-lateral fault striking northeast. While the earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers northwest of the Ryukyu Trench, where the Philippine Sea plate begins its northwestward subduction beneath Japan and the Eurasia plate, the shallow depth and faulting mechanism of this earthquake indicate it occurred on a crustal fault within the upper Eurasia plate. At the location of this event, the Philippine Sea plate converges with Eurasia towards the northwest at a velocity of 58 mm/yr.

The April 15, 2016, M 7.0 event (UTC 16:25:06) occurred one day after a series of foreshocks in the same region, which included M 6.2 and M 6.0 earthquakes. The April 14 events resulted in at least 9 fatalities and over 800 injuries.

According to the US Consulate in Fukuoka which covers the consular district, the Kyushu/Yamaguchi Region of southwestern Japan consists of seven prefectures on Kyushu Island (Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima) and Yamaguchi prefecture on the southern tip of Honshu, with a combined population of over 15 million. The region’s $435 billion economy constitutes Japan’s fourth largest economic center, representing about 10 percent of national GDP – comparable in size to the Netherlands.

The US Embassy in Tokyo issued one Emergency Message to U.S. citizens saying in part that “Kumamoto is approximately 730 miles southwest of Tokyo. Authorities report nine confirmed deaths and as many as 1,000 injured. Local authorities report no U.S. citizens among the casualties. No tsunami warning was issued. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported several aftershocks, some of which exceeded 5.0 magnitude. Aftershocks may continue for up to a week. Heavy rains are expected in the region over the coming weekend, which may lead to landslides.”

U.S. Forces Japan announced that the Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, over the weekend to assist with recovery efforts in support of the Government of Japan’s relief efforts. According to the DOD release, the U.S. military support is provided at the request of the Government of Japan and is in support of efforts undertaken by the Japanese Self Defense Force.

Japan Times reported that a cabinet secretary said there [are] no abnormalities at nearby nuclear facilities. The epicenter was 120 km (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, the only one operating in the country.  The Asahi Shimbun quotes Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying, “Under the current circumstances, there is no need to stop the plant because (the shaking) is sufficiently low.”

Meanwhile, in Fukuoka, motorists and pedestrians have reported seeing white foam on the streets after the quakes:

 

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Secretary Kerry Makes Historic Visit to #Hiroshima Memorial 70 Years After A-Bomb

Posted: 9:36 pm PT
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Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Manama, Bahrain, Baghdad, Iraq, Kabul, Afghanistan and Hiroshima, Japan from April 6-10, 2016. Below is a photo taken during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan.  Secretary Kerry is the first secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum & Park. More photos here.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Leads Secretary Kerry on a Walking Tour of the walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida leads U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and other officials on April 10, 2016, during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan, following the first round of discussions in the G7 Ministerial Meetings. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Leads Secretary Kerry on a Walking Tour of the walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida leads U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and other officials on April 10, 2016, during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan, following the first round of discussions in the G7 Ministerial Meetings. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

We’d like to note that a mid-level Foreign Service officer Joel Ehrendreich, then an FS-1 political officer in Singapore submitted on five consecutive years a dissent to the policy of non-attendance at the annual ceremony in Hiroshima.  While serving in Tokyo in 2005 he was asked on behalf of the embassy to decline an invitation from the mayor of Hiroshima to attend the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony.  He recommended changing the policy and accepting the invitation.  It took five years, with Mr. Ehrendreich resubmitting his dissent each year, to change this policy.  In 2010 Ambassador John V. Roos attended the ceremony, a gesture that helped strengthen bilateral relations.  In 2o11, Mr. Ehrendreich was awarded the William R. Rivkin Award for constructive dissent by a mid-level officer.

 

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Sherman Funk: This story sounds incredible, but it is absolutely true (Via ADST)

Posted: 12:17 am EDT
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The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 1986 and 1987 (P.L. 99-93) amended the IG Act to include the Department of State and the Foreign Service. The Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986, (P.L. 99-399) required the establishment of an independent OIG at State by October 1, 1986. The OIG was established on August 27, 1986.  Sherman M. Funk was the State Department Inspector General from 1987–1994 . He served under four secretaries of state (Schultz, Baker, Eagleburger and Christopher).

Below is an excerpt from Mr. Funk’s oral history via ADST.

There’s a story which nobody believes that is absolutely true and people are still in jail as a result of it, the Japanese. This story sounds incredible, but it is absolutely true. When they built the new embassy in Tokyo, and a compound, the specifications called for two manholes on access points in the rear courtyard where the oil tank was buried. Nobody thought of asking why you needed two. And the embassy opened, and shortly after it opened the truck appeared, a big oil tank truck, guys wearing uniforms driving it. And the night before the security called in and said that they were getting oil, and they went through and opened up one of the manholes, put a hose down and they filled the tank. A couple days later another truck appeared in the morning, also a call to come through saying we were getting a delivery. Nobody thought of asking why deliveries so close. The truck came in, opened up the other manhole and put a thing down and it was true half of the oil had been pumped in a couple days before.

This went on for sixteen years, and in the sixteen years only one person, a young assistant GSO, ever inquired why we were buying so much oil. One person. And the admin counselor called in the senior FSN, the GSO type, and said make a study of why we’re spending so much money. The guy came back with the report that the weather is so volatile here, we have equipment which needs the oil. The person who did that report was the guy in charge of the scam. Toward the end one of the workers got disgruntled, that he wasn’t getting enough money on the scam, and went to the assistant security officer, our assistant regional officer, and said that, “You’re being robbed.” The assistant legal security officer went to the same FSN and asked him to look at it. The guy came back and said no problem. That went on for another year.

Now people who listen to that story say it’s not possible. Sixteen years we used enormous volumes of oil. In fact, we prosecuted. One of my lawyers and two of my investigators went out, we went to Tokyo, worked with the courts. It was hideously embarrassing for the Japanese by the way, and they were very tough on these people involved. We’re getting back most of the money, we’re suing the companies because they should have had controls to prevent that. But one of their biggest arguments, and if that were argued in the States, they would win, was you guys are so stupid why didn’t you guys know something was wrong. We just deliver for your requirements. To me, I find that so incredible, and it went on for sixteen damn years, but we’re getting millions of dollars back now. But we had to sue for it.

What kind of naiveté is it to ask somebody who would benefit from it? And if the thing was going on, he would certainly know what was going on. How much management moxie does it take? How much common sense does it take? Twice they went back to the same person who was the contact point in the embassy, who would make the telephone calls to have the deliveries come in the next morning. Incredible.

Read the full oral history interview here (PDF) conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on July 14, 1994.

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