Thomas Foley, ex-U.S. envoy to Japan and House speaker, dies


WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — Thomas Foley, a former U.S. House of Representatives speaker and ambassador to Japan, has died, U.S. media said Oct. 18. He was 84.

Foley served as the U.S. top envoy to Japan from 1997 to 2001 mostly under President Bill Clinton and handled issues such as reinforcement of bilateral security ties through a review of defense cooperation guidelines and deregulation of the Japanese market.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement, “Tom served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, where his poise and civility helped strengthen our relationship with one of our closest allies.” In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences while citing Foley’s contributions to Japan-U.S. relations.

Abe said in a statement that Foley contributed to strengthening bilateral ties, expanding exchanges of lawmakers between the two nations, and promoting friendship between people of the countries.
The cause of his death is unknown. The Associated Press said, quoting his wife Heather, that he suffered a stroke last December and was hospitalized due to pneumonia in May.

An attorney-turned-lawmaker who served for about 30 years, Foley engaged in exchanges of lawmakers from both countries and had connections with Japanese politicians including the late Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita.

In 1996 the Japanese government decorated Foley with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, Paulownia Flowers for playing an outstanding role in promoting U.S. understanding of Japan.

Foley arrived in Japan in November 1997 more than eight months after his predecessor Walter Mondale, a former U.S. vice president, left the post, marking the longest absence of a U.S. ambassador in postwar Japan.

Foley, a Democrat from Spokane, Wash., became leader of the House in 1989 after taking key congressional posts such as majority leader but failed his reelection bid in 1994.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

See the 2024 CAAMFest