The U.S. Senate confirmed private equity executive William Hagerty on Thursday as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Japan, filling a post considered especially crucial in light of neighboring North Korea’s recent missile tests.
The vote was 86 to 12 in the 100-member Senate.
Hagerty, founder of the private equity firm Hagerty Peterson, spent several years in Japan with the Boston Consulting Group and later served in the White House under former President George H.W. Bush.
Trump’s choice of Hagerty was taken as a sign of the interest in economic ties to Japan by the Republican president, a real estate developer and reality television star, who had never held public office when he was elected in November.
North Korea has been worrying and frustrating neighboring countries and U.S. officials with a series of missile tests, more so since Pyongyang last week test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
Trump has been criticized for being slow to name ambassadors to important U.S. allies like Japan, especially in light of the crisis. There is still no new U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
Hagerty succeeds Caroline Kennedy, an attorney and daughter of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who held the position from 2013 until Trump took office in January 2017.