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Trump picks Tenn. businessman for ambassador to Japan

Trump picks Tenn. businessman for ambassador to Japan
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President Trump has selected Tennessee businessman Bill Hagerty as his nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, the White House announced Thursday.

Hagerty, a private equity investor, served for four years as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development under Gov. Bill Haslam (R) starting in 2011.

During his time there, Tennessee led the country in foreign direct investment, with a large portion coming from Japan, the White House said in a statement.

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According to the statement, Hagerty's private sector experience has included serving as CEO and board member of "companies with extensive operations in Asia and Europe."

The businessman worked for a consulting group starting in the 1980s, which included spending three years in Japan managing business with western clients.

He also served as a White House Fellow with a focus in international trade, commerce, treasury, defense and telecom in the early 1990's.

The nomination of an ambassador to Japan comes at a critical time for the Trump administration, as the U.S., Japan and South Korea develop new strategies to push back against North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

The Senate on Thursday approved the first of Trump's ambassador nominees, voting largely along party lines to confirm David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

The White House on Thursday evening also announced that Trump is poised to nominate Robert Sumwalt to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board and Rear Adm. Althea Coetzee to be deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.