December 25th, the Japanese government appointed Koji Tomita, the former ambassador to South Korea, as its ambassador to the United States, which took effect on the same day.
The appointment comes in time for President-elect Joseph Biden to take office next month.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun said that unlike usual practice, the new ambassador to the United States has not been the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs or Foreign Affairs Examiner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the deputy minister.
This is unusual. The current ambassador to the United States, Shinsuke Sugiyama, was the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs.
During Biden’s presidency in the Barack Obama administration, Tomita served as the minister of the embassy in the United States and other positions, building contacts within the Democratic Party.
Tomita has a good relationship with people around Biden, Kyodo News Agency reported. According to the analysis of Asahi Shimbun, the government chose Tomita as its ambassador to the United States to focus on this point in order to establish contact with the formed Biden government as soon as possible.
Tomita, 63 years old, entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1981. He was the director of the North America Bureau and ambassador to Israel. In October last year, he served as the ambassador to South Korea.
He shouldered the heavy burden when Japan-South Korea relations were at a low point due to disputes such as forced labor recruitment and export control. According to the Korean Central Daily, Tomita is regarded as “American Tong” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, not “Korean Tong”.