Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Caroline Kennedy named ambassador to Japan

25 July 2013, 12:26

Washington - President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated Caroline Kennedy to become US ambassador to Japan, in the biggest foray into public service for John F Kennedy's sole surviving child.

The former first daughter, who long resisted running for public office, if confirmed will enter a limelight not seen since her childhood as she becomes the face of the United States in one of its closest allies.

Japan hailed the announcement, saying that Kennedy - a crucial early supporter of Obama's presidential bid - enjoyed the "deep confidence" of the president.

Japan "highly appreciates her nomination as reflecting the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan-US alliance", a foreign ministry statement said.

Obama offered an understated rollout to the long rumoured nomination, with the White House issuing a statement calling Kennedy and unrelated nominees "fine public servants".

By tapping the 55-year-old known around the world as a girl in the White House, Obama was returning to a tradition of making Tokyo one of the most high-profile US diplomatic jobs.

Prominent ambassador

Previous US ambassadors have included former vice president Walter Mondale, former speaker of the House Tom Foley and former Senate majority leader Howard Baker.

By contrast, Obama's first-term ambassador John Roos - known primarily as a campaign fund-raiser - was seen by some Japanese commentators as a sign of a lower US priority on the country.

Roos, however, was later praised for handling the round-the-clock US response to the March 2011 tsunami disaster.

Weston Konishi, director of Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, said that Obama likely picked Kennedy knowing that Japan wanted a prominent ambassador.

"Caroline Kennedy certainly fits that bill, coming from a legendary American family. I am sure she will be a very popular figure in Japan," Konishi said.

But despite the official praise for Kennedy, Konishi said that Japanese policymakers may have preferred a figure with prior foreign policy experience in light of recent tensions between Japan and its neighbours, especially China.

No open critics

"I think there is less excitement about the nomination at the elite level," he said.

Kennedy is not known for any direct connection to Japan, although she visited in 1986 during her honeymoon with her husband Edwin Schlossberg.

Her father was seriously wounded by a Japanese destroyer during World War II. But Kennedy was perhaps best remembered in Tokyo for naming as ambassador Edwin Reischauer, a Japan scholar credited with building the post-war alliance.

Caroline Kennedy needs to be confirmed by the Senate, but she has no open critics and the body is led by the Democratic Party which reveres her father.

Kennedy was five days short of her six birthday when her father was assassinated in 1963. She suffered further tragedies when her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, died in 1994 and her brother, John F Kennedy Jnr, was killed in a plane crash in 1999.

The family's sole survivor has supported the Kennedy brand of progressive politics but mostly shunned the spotlight other than writing books on civil liberties.

First woman to take up post

But Kennedy offered a major boost to Obama's presidential campaign in 2008 when she threw her family's prestige behind the then senator instead of perceived Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Kennedy wrote that the first-term senator could become "a president like my father".

If confirmed, Kennedy would be the first woman to take up the post, a feat sure to be noticed in a country that has historically ranked lower than other wealthy nations on women's empowerment.

Kennedy would take over at a time of friction between Japan and a rising China over a territorial row, although she can expect to see relative stability in US-Japan relations.

Conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition won a comfortable victory in upper house elections on Sunday, ending an era of divided parliaments that led to the rapid downfall of six premiers since 2006.

Obama faced hiccups in his relationship with Japan during his first year when left-leaning prime minister Yukio Hatoyama took office and called for a more "equal" relationship with Washington.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Former Assistant Minister joins J...

A former Assistant Minister has quit PNU and joined the Jubilee Party. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...