The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is opening an office in Tokyo, according to a Jan. 12 notice from the agency and Gov. Bill Walker. The notice specifies Masatoshi Nick Shiratori as director of the office.

Aside from the notice, the decision has not been publicly announced.

Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Walker, called use of the term “new” misleading. Jang says Shiratori was hired to replace Kojiro Abe, who retired in December from a position as a contractor for the state after 36 years. Abe worked primarily as a government interface for Alaska on the state’s natural gas pipeline projects, Jang said, as well as the tourism and seafood industries.

Jang said Shiratori’s contract is the same as Abe’s — capped at $140,000 a year — and has been shifted to AGDC, instead of the governor’s office.

Rosetta Alcantra, a spokesperson for AGDC, said the shift in contract was made because it became apparent that AGDC would be doing the majority of the interface on the state’s current natural gas pipeline project, AKLNG, in Japan.

Alcantra said Shiratori will be working out of a “humble” office space that will carry an additional cost to the state. In an email Thursday, Alcantra stated the approximate 2017 expenses for the Japan office are $70,950, which includes a deposit of approximately $9,900. Monthly charges will be around $5,300 including tax.

She explained that the figures were estimates, as the payment terms are in yen — the basic monetary unit of Japan — and the monthly charges will fluctuate based on the exchange rate at the time of the charge.

The lease is through Jan. 31, 2018. Abe previously worked out of his own office in Tokyo.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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