WASHINGTON: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide “was a trusted ally, partner, and problem solver,” US Sen. Bill Hagerty, former ambassador to Japan, said in a statement released Friday after Suga’s abrupt announcement that he would not seek re-election.
Hagerty, who resigned as US ambassador to Japan in July 2019 to run for the Senate, also said that “no challenge was too great” when he worked with Suga in Japan. Suga was serving as chief cabinet secretary at the time, before becoming prime minister in September 2020.
While in office as ambassador, Hagerty is believed to have forged a trusting relationship with Suga as he frequently met with the then chief cabinet secretary to discuss the planned relocation of a US military base within the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa, among other issues.
“I feel certain he will continue to contribute significantly to the ever-strengthening strategic relationship enjoyed between our two nations,” Hagerty said, noting that the Japan-US alliance serves as the cornerstone for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and is critical to combating growing threats from China, North Korea and Russia.
On Friday, Suga said he will not run in the upcoming leadership election for Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, signaling his intention to step down as prime minister. His term of office as LDP president ends on Sept. 30.