WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he is nominating former first daughter Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Japan, offering the most famous living member of a prominent American family a new role of service to country.
Kennedy, an attorney and bestselling book editor, is being rewarded for helping put Obama in the White House where her father served until his assassination 50 years ago. If confirmed, she would be the first woman in a post where many other prominent Americans have served to strengthen a vital Asian tie.
Kennedy helped propel Obama to the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in a celebrated endorsement over Hillary Rodham Clinton _ the only time she’s endorsed a presidential candidate other than her uncle Ted Kennedy in 1980. She was a co-chair of Obama’s vice presidential search committee and in the 2012 race served as one of 35 national co-chairs of his re-election campaign.
The White House announced her nomination without any particular fanfare, listing her in a news release along with other selections for administration posts. Obama said in a statement that all the choices bring “a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles,” but he offered no comment specific to Kennedy.
Japan is one of the United States’ most important commercial and military partners and accustomed since the end of World War II to having renowned American political leaders serve as envoy. Former U.S. ambassadors to Japan include former Vice President Walter Mondale, former House Speaker Tom Foley and former Senate Majority Leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker.
Kennedy, 55, doesn’t have their foreign policy heft or any obvious ties to Japan, a key ally in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. She would replace John Roos, a wealthy former Silicon Valley lawyer and top Obama campaign fundraiser.
Thomas Berger, an international relations professor at Boston University, said some may be concerned that Kennedy doesn’t have the experience to deal with thorny issues in the U.S.-Japan relationship, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks and the dispute over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China. But Berger argued that Kennedy will have an experienced staff to guide her through policy matters, while she offers other assets _ celebrity appeal to the Japanese, a close relationship with Obama and her gender.
“Japanese women continue to look for role models who demonstrate that it is possible to be a woman and have a successful career in politics,” Berger said. “I expect that many in both the United States and in Japan will want to use her to send that message to the Japanese public.”
In Tokyo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Japanese government appreciated the nomination as “reflecting the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan-U.S. alliance.”
Kennedy’s confirmation to the post by the Senate would bring a third generation of her family into the U.S. diplomatic corps. Her grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain, while her aunt Jean Kennedy Smith was ambassador to Ireland under President Bill Clinton.
Caroline Kennedy was five days shy of her sixth birthday when her father was killed, and she lived most of the rest of her life in New York City. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, got a law degree from Columbia University, married exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg and had three children.
Kennedy is president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and chair of the senior advisory committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard. She has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, helped raise millions of dollars for New York schools and edited numerous bestselling books on history, law and poetry.
She considered running for political office after Clinton resigned the New York Senate seat to serve as Obama’s secretary of state. But Kennedy eventually withdrew herself from consideration to fill the seat, once held by her uncle Robert F. Kennedy, citing unspecified personal reasons.
Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter:
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier