Admiral Harry B. Harris, who is in the highest position in US Navy as Asian-American, will be appointed as the next head of the Pacific Command. In this photo, he speaks at the Battleship Missouri on Veteran's Day in 2013. Image: United States Navy

Japanese-American Admiral Nominated as Head of US Pacific Command - 米太平洋軍司令官に日系のハリス海軍大将が就任


This article is presented bilingually in English and Japanese. For Japanese, click here. / この記事は日本語でもお読みいただけます。日本語はこちら

On September 22, 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that President Obama has nominated Navy Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. to be the next head of Pacific Command. Harris, a Japanese-American now serving as the commander of the Pacific Fleet, is the highest ranked Asian-American in the US Navy. Other prominent Asian-Americans in the US military include former four star Army Gen. and former Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs Eric Shinseki, also Japanese-American, and Army Gen. Viet Xuan Luong, who is Vietnamese-American.

Adm. Harris was born in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan, to a Japanese mother and an American father who was serving in the US Navy. After graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1978, Adm. Harris studied East Asian security at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and at Oxford University.

Yokosuka is the base of the US Navy presence in Japan and the homeport of the US Seventh Fleet, one of the Navy’s biggest fleets. Yokosuka is also a historic place in US-Japan relations. It is where American Commodore Mathew C. Perry landed in 1853 to call on Japan to sign commercial treaties with the United States, which led to the end of a Japanese isolationist policy that had lasted for over 200 years.

Pacific Command (PACOM) controls US military forces stationed in Japan, South Korea, and throughout the Asia Pacific region. If his nomination for PACOM commander is confirmed by Congress, Adm. Harris will be in charge of implementing the military aspects of President Obama’s Asia-Pacific policy, including maritime security issues in the East and South China Seas. He will also tackle the issues surrounding the relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, which has been stalled between the governments of the US and Japan for almost 20 years.