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International relations

Japan awaits US ambassador with direct access to Biden

Post left vacant since July 2019 with Trump nominee held up in Senate

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by then-Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty as he arrives in Tokyo in October 2018. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

TOKYO -- The election of Joe Biden as the next U.S. president has in effect scrapped President Donald Trump's nomination of Kenneth Weinstein as the next ambassador to Japan, leaving Tokyo to wait to see how the next administration will fill the long-vacant post.

As the main liaison for the Japan-U.S. alliance, the ambassador plays a crucial role in Tokyo's relationship with its sole formal ally. Yet the position has remained empty for nearly a year and a half, since William Hagerty stepped down in July 2019 to run for a Senate seat -- the longest vacancy since World War II. Joseph Young now serves as acting ambassador.

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