ICYMI—Hagerty Joins The Journal Editorial Report on Fox News to Discuss PM Kishida’s Visit, Philippines Countering Communist China, Nippon Steel

April 15, 2024

NASHVILLE, TN—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, joined The Journal Editorial Report on Fox News to discuss Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s official visit to Washington, American support for the Philippines’ military defense to counter China, and the Biden Administration’s opposition to Nippon Steel buying U.S. Steel.

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Partial Transcript

Hagerty on the significance of the U.S.-Japan Alliance: “The relationships that we’ve built with Japan has increasingly strengthened over the years. When I arrived as U.S. Ambassador in the Trump Administration in 2017, we were overcoming a period where the previous Administration had been leading from behind. You may remember that North Korea had become extraordinarily aggressive. China had moved into the East China Sea and circling the Senkaku Islands, and they were all over the South China Sea. When we came in, we began to lead from strength, and leading from a position of strength allowed us to put the Chinese out of the East China Sea to calm the Senkaku Island area. When we got our assets where they needed to be, we went from a lot of noise and belligerence from North Korea, to a position where we’re actually at the negotiating table. And with our freedom of navigation operations, we calmed the South China Sea, the busiest sea land in the world. We brought all that to a much better place in the Trump Administration. But what’s happened is since Afghanistan fell, I think most of our allies around the world have become much more concerned. North Korean belligerence is back. China has become far more aggressive, even flying a spy balloon over America. What Japan has done is it’s leaned into it; it’s had to. Japan public sentiment has changed a great deal. The Japanese people, normally pacifists, have realized that they’re in grave danger. So, the Japanese government is stepping up its commitment to defense—it’s reaching out to America—to make certain that our bonds are strong and get even stronger. That’s why the Prime Minister was here; that’s why it was so important to demonstrate Japan’s commitment to our joint alliance. And I hope that we’ll continue to push this forward through the end of this Biden Administration and into the next Trump Administration.”

Hagerty on Japan stepping up its military defense: “I think it absolutely is [as a result of China], Paul. And again, I had many conversations with former Prime Minister Abe about his desire to do just this: to step up and lean forward in a much more aggressive posture from a national defense perspective. But public sentiment was not with him. The Prime Minister’s Party leads in a coalition government with a minority party called the Komeito. Komeito is a Buddhist affiliated party; they’re pacifist. Prime Minister Abe was never able to move them along to get to this sort of forward-leaning posture. But after the invasion of Afghanistan, after China stepped up its sorties into the Taiwan Strait, after China came back into the East China Sea harassing Japan, the Japanese public sentiment has shifted. Now we see a public that is much more receptive to leaning forward from a public national defense standpoint, and they’re stepping up with public expenditures to support that.”

Hagerty on helping the Philippines counter Communist China: “I’ve had direct experience with this. When I was serving in the region, I actually was deeply involved in getting [the] Subic Bay back into American ownership. The Hanjin Shipyard was in bankruptcy; two Chinese bidders were at the table. I was reading literally in the Nikkei Asia about this and organized the resources, engaged the Japanese, engaged the Philippines, and got U.S. private equity involved. And we went in, entered that, and actually American Enterprise now exists there. We run the Subic Bay area; we’re going to expand that. What you’re going to see is more investment along that corner [is] infrastructure investment. The United States is going to be deeply involved in that; our private sector will be involved. We need to be doing more, and I think the trilateral meeting with the Philippines, with Japan and America that took place this past week, is an absolutely crucial step to move forward. I put forward legislation that will actually facilitate more foreign military financing for the Philippines so they can become more interoperable with the United States. So, we will see more operational engagement—we’ll see more U.S. ships in the area—and I hope that we’ll see more joint exercises in the future.”

Hagerty on the Biden Administration’s opposition to Nippon Steel buying U.S. Steel: “It’s clearly a commercial transaction. It was not the focus of the Prime Minister’s meeting here in the United States this past week. But I’ve certainly heard from a number of Japanese business entities about this deal. Let’s be clear here: it does warrant great scrutiny. Nippon Steel doesn’t have a clean record when it comes to trade infringements here in the United States. I know it’s going to be looked at carefully; I think it’s going to be very difficult in an election year to get this accomplished. The Biden Administration has made it pretty clear, particularly given their proximity to the unions, that they’re going to make this quite a difficult transaction to get across. I think Nippon Steel Management right now is negotiating with the unions, talking with them—that’s what they should be doing—we’ll see how it unfolds.”