Hagerty backs Emanuel nomination

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Sen. Bill Hagerty reached across the aisle Wednesday to offer vital support for President Biden's nomination of former Congress member and ex-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, to be the next ambassador to Japan.

Why it matters: Hagerty was himself a former ambassador to Japan, making his support even more notable. He took the unique step of personally introducing Emanuel, a Democrat, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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  • Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene prior to the committee hearing previewed Hagerty's endorsement, pointing out that progressive activists are pressuring liberal senators to oppose Emanuel's confirmation, which makes support from key Republicans crucial.

What they're saying: Hagerty told the committee he was convinced to support the confirmation after recent conversations in which Emanuel proved that he "shares my unwavering conviction that the U.S.-Japan relationship is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the entire Indo-Pacific region — a region that is becoming ever more dangerous by the day."

Of note: Emanuel told Hagerty during the hearing that if confirmed, he will work to bring home Greg Kelly, the Tennessee resident and ex-Nissan executive who has been detained in Japan for three years following accusations of financial misconduct.

  • Hagerty bashed Japan for its "unfair and barbaric treatment in the so-called 'hostage justice system' " as "cruel," "inhumane" and "unjust."

  • "You have my word, as I said to you privately, I’m saying it publicly," Emanuel said of working to bring Kelly home.

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