The United States Embassy in Tokyo mourns the loss of Former Ambassador Howard H. Baker, who died yesterday at his home in Tennessee. Ambassador Baker was the U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo from July 2001 to February 2005 under President George W. Bush.
Ambassador Baker was beloved by all during his time in Tokyo. He worked hard to forge a close bilateral cooperation with Japan after the events of September 11, 2001. He also worked as a liaison with Washington when Prime Minister Koizumi visited Pyongyang in 2002 to meet with Kim Jong Il, then North Korean leader, about the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens.
Together with his good friend, Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Ambassador Baker established the Baker-Kato Diplomatic Exchange Fellowship. This one year exchange of our nations’ diplomats ensures that his work to deepen the strong U.S.-Japan relationship will live on for many years to come.
Ambassador Baker’s time in Japan capped a lifetime of public service. Prior to being appointed Ambassador, he represented Tennessee in the Senate for 18 years. He also served as chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1988 and was Senate Minority Leader for the Republican Party from 1977 to 1981 and then Senate Majority Leader from 1981 to 1985. He is famous for his investigation of the Watergate scandal and for the question, “What did the president know and when did he know it.”
Ambassador Baker is survived by his wife, Senator Nancy Kassebaum (ret), who represented the state of Kansas in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1997. He was beloved by both parties for his moderate stance and his efforts to form consensus over conflict, a trait that was invaluable during his time as Ambassador.
All who knew and worked with Ambassador Baker feel honored to have known this great man; one who was dedicated to finding common ground to make the world a better place. He will be remembered for his kindness, warmth, and profound intelligence. We send our condolences to Senator Kassebaum and the other members of his family.