Former Ambassador to Japan and TN Senate Candidate Bill Hagerty joined The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Thursday morning on the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Hagerty talked about his recent visit to the White House where he was called in to assist with connecting to Japanse CEOs in order to learn and devise ways of bringing back the American economy. Near the end of the segment, Hagerty and Leahy agreed that China has been lying citing a publicity campaign more than a heath campaign aided by the Director of the World Health Organization.
Leahy: We are joined now by former Ambassador to Japan and candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate here in Tennessee. Bill Hagerty. Good morning Bill.
Hagerty: Good morning Mike. It’s great to be back with you.
Leahy: I understand you were at the White House yesterday. Tell us about that visit.
Hagerty: I tell you it was very very quiet at the White House. The whole time I was there I believe I was the only visitor. Kellyanne told me they have barred almost everybody because of the concerns of the coronavirus. They took a forehead temperature as they do every staff coming in in the morning. It’s a quiet place. Everybody is observing social distancing.
But everyone is focused on coronavirus. I stopped in to see my good friend Chris Ledell and he’s responsible for managing all of the workstreams that the White House is pursuing with various policy options. His board is white with all those policy options right now. It is 100% focused on the health concerns of the coronavirus and then bringing our economy around.
My visit there yesterday was first to explain how the economic impact is being felt here. How we are having a disproportionate impact on larger cities versus more and more rural counties. So there’s a real timing factor in all of this. Taking a one size fits all approach will not work for the United States. It certainly wouldn’t work in our state.
We talked specifically about how we address strategic sectors and as we come out of this, how are we going to bring our economy back roaring strong? And particularly how we are we going to get strategic industries back and re-shored in the United States.
And they wanted my expertise because I served as Commerce Secretary here in Tennessee. Secretary of Economic and Community Development at a time when things weren’t good in Tennessee and we made our state number one in the nation on my watch.
And when I was in Japan, we increased Japan’s investment in the United States and made Japan the number one as an investor in America during the president’s three-year tenure so far. We were there talking specifically about how we identity specific industries and how we get them back onshore. And how we get our economy turning again. We went through the specifics of the package that had been laid out. I think we need to let that package settle in a bit.
They are already talking about particularly the Democrats are talking about a fourth package. My view is let’s see how this first package goes through and if we are able to turn the health side of this sooner than later, that may be enough.
What I certainly don’t want to have happen is to have Nancy Pelosi use yet another crisis to push more of her Green New Deal and socialist agenda through. I’ll tell you this too, my family and I are praying every day for President Trump. I hope your listeners will all help us too. His leadership has made all the difference in the world.
Leahy: How long were you in the White House? One hour? Two hours?
Hagerty: I was there for about three and a half hours?
Leahy: Did you have an opportunity to speak directly to the President? He was pretty busy.
Hagerty: No, I was with the staff yesterday.
Leahy: Got it. What do they do with your recommendations?
Hagerty: The teams that they are putting together right now are really focused on the economy and how we move things forward. So my inputs are really from a practical perspective. What they need from me is some help because of my business background.
Some help thinking about practically speaking how to identify those industries that need to move back from a strategic standpoint. And what types of programs do we need to make that possible? So that’s what they are looking for. Then my voice on how it’s being felt across the country. They realize that they are in a bubble there in Washington. Things are very different here in Tennessee.
Leahy: Quite different.
Hagerty: I think we represent the best of America here in Tennessee. And we are feeling it the way other states are as well. It’s a very different story if you talk to a mayor four or five counties away from Davidson County who may have zero or one or two cases versus the situation happening right in the center of Nashville or Memphis.
Leahy: Exactly. You were the ambassador to Japan for a couple of years. And I note with interest that Japan has only 2,884 cases right now out of a population of what 100 million?
Hagerty: The population is larger than that. 126 million.
Leahy: And there are 57 deaths. In contrast here we have 327 million Americans. 215,000 cases, 5,000 deaths. What do you think we can learn from Japan on this?
Hagerty: You know this is exactly the question Jared Kushner asked me yesterday. What can be learned from Japan? I’m putting in place a network of businesspeople in Japan who are going to help us. If they are a month ahead of us and bring their economy back up are there lessons that we can learn. And the point Jared made was that Bill you have more of the CEOs in Japan on your cell phone than any other American. And that’s true.
I began that process last night by reaching out and trying to understand how they are beginning to navigate the process of bringing their economy back up. I’ll say it is still not clear to me if they’ve completely turned the corner on the coronavirus yet. But as they do, I think that’s something we are looking to learn from and to take advantage of. What their experience will be as they prepare to bring their economy back fully on stream.
Leahy: You know I saw a report literally early this morning that said perhaps that they were seeing a little bit of a spike up in Japan. I guess that’s what you’re referencing right?
Hagerty: Yeah. There were a number of new cases that were reported. Its nighttime there. But last night a number of new cases were reported so they had that concern that this could spike in various regions. This is something we want to watch carefully to see if it happens in the United States. But they are in the process right now of making plans to bring their economy up. They didn’t respond the same way we did.
Leahy: How are they different on this than we are?
Hagerty: One, they are limited by the Constitution. They can’t buy Fiat’s if they shut the companies down. They can make a request. Japanese are to comply with government requests there. The government shutdown has not been as great as it has here. The other question I’m asking is about has the extent of testing been the same as it has here? I want to make sure we are comparing apples to apples when we have these conversations.
I know the charts you are talking about Mike. Japan is at a fundamentally lower level. Let’s just make certain we’re talking apples to apples. But if that’s the case they are going to be ahead of us turning on this. And I think there is a lot we can learn from their experience. We may be able to help them but I think they can definitely help us.
Leahy: How many Japanese CEOs have you spoken with in the last 24 hours?
Hagerty: In the past 24 hours I’ve only spoken with three. But over the past several months I’ve spoken with dozens of them.
Leahy: In the three you’ve spoken to in the last 24 hours, what sense do you get from them?
Hagerty: Optimism. I’m sensing optimism. Japan, they used to call it Japan, Inc. Mike. It’s a very business-oriented economy which is why I may have done so well there because of my strong business experience. And I had a lot of business friends there when I lived in Japan many years ago with Boston Consulting Group.
So they are optimistic about getting their business turned back on. But they still have real supply chain issues. The same that we are going to be dealing with as well. To the extent, they are relying on China. There are serious dislocations there. Other countries that have been affected by the virus are impacting their supply chains too. So that’s what they are focused on too.
Bringing back their supply chains as well as getting their domestic market going. I say this, they also share the same perspectives that we do. The Deputy Prime Minister of Japan today said the Director of WHO should be called the China Health Organization. They’ve been apologizing for China so much. We all know where this virus came from. It’s from China. It’s from Wuhan China.
And if the Chinese had not tried to hide this and cover it up, in the beginning, we’d be at a far different place and far better place. They’ve had a devastating impact, not only on their own people but now they’ve had a devastating impact all across the world. On our human population and on our economies. And the Japanese see it the same way we see it as well.
Leahy: Increasingly we are seeing reports that they are dramatically understating the number of cases and deaths they’ve had and the number of deaths. Apparently, the intelligence community provided a report on that effect to the president and he handled it quite diplomatically in his task force report yesterday. I look at the numbers from China. I don’t believe a single one of them. I think they are lying. That’s my opinion.
Hagerty: I’d say all the Japanese CEOs would agree with you. They blame the Chinese Communist Regime just the way I do. That regime is more interested in retaining its own power than it is in protecting its own people. They’ve been running a publicity campaign and not a public health campaign. They created tremendous damage.
With the CEOs, I talked to one last night and he said that they had some type of proof that there was a tremendous number of urns that had been purchased just from one location to dispense with the incineration of the bodies. Far more than the Chinese report.
Leahy: We’ve seen reports of exactly that same thing in other news outlets. You are fluent in Japanese but you’ve been away from there for a while. When you talk to these Japanse CEOs do you talk in Japanese or English?
Hagerty: Mostly in English, because most of the international CEOs have good English ability or they have an interpreter in the room. I can speak with them in Japanse but their English is generally better than mine.
Leahy: Well, there you go.
Hagerty: It’s like a joke in Japanese. (Laughter) That’s the test. That’s the test, Mike.
Listen to the third hour here:
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