By William Hagerty / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun As I reach the end of my service as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, I do so with pride and satisfaction in the excellent work Mission Japan has done to strengthen our U.S.-Japan relationship during my tenure. You’ve left an indelible mark on our hearts. I am deeply grateful to the many people who supported me and my family during our time here. We depart with the knowledge that the enduring partnership between our great nations will only grow stronger in the future.
On July 27, 2017, I had the great honor of being sworn in as Ambassador by Vice President Pence. When I took the oath of office, I understood that the United States places the highest priority on our relationship with Japan. Our unique partnership enables our close collaboration and acts as a force multiplier, benefitting both our own countries and our allies.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance is, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Since my arrival, I have seen significant advances made in our defense cooperation, interoperability, and effectiveness. We’ve also made substantial progress in streamlining the delivery of critical defense capabilities to Japan.
Our Alliance has proven essential for our ability to respond to regional challenges. In the summer of 2017, tensions were high after North Korea launched a missile over Japanese territory. In close coordination, the United States and Japan were able to combine pressure and engagement to bring us to a substantially different place with North Korea today. These efforts have resulted in several historic summits, both between the Koreas and between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, and we remain committed to further diplomatic progress.
We are also coordinating more closely and effectively than ever before on meeting the challenge posed by China across a broad range of areas. The United States and Japan are working alongside the EU in a multilateral effort to reform the WTO and address China’s non-market behavior. By addressing market-distorting policies and practices, we will realize an outcome that is in the long-term interest of all nations, including China.
We are also making substantial progress on the economic side of our relationship. Throughout my time as Ambassador, Mission Japan has done much to promote cross-border investment between our countries. The United States is by far the largest foreign direct investor in Japan, and Japan has become the foremost investor in the United States. These close economic ties support hundreds of thousands of jobs in both countries and drive our mutual prosperity.
Our people-to-people ties continue to grow stronger. Through our Go for Gold campaign, we have sent our diplomats and American Olympic athletes to schools throughout the country to connect directly with thousands of Japanese youth. We have furthered support for the many educational and professional exchanges between our two countries. Certainly, the close relationship that our two leaders share perfectly illustrates the unshakeable bond between our people and our countries.
For both my family and me, the past two years have been the greatest of our lives. We will return to Tennessee with the warmest memories of this beautiful nation and the Japanese people. I feel incredibly fortunate for the decades-long connection I have with this country, and I am delighted it is now a connection shared by my entire family.
The relationship between the United States and Japan has never been stronger. I am honored to have had the opportunity to contribute, and I leave with complete confidence that it will flourish and grow for generations to come.