politics

Obama nominates Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Japan

35 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2013 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
Login to comment

Kennedy has limited experience in foreign affairs and is not known for any connection to Japan, although she visited in 1986 during her honeymoon with her husband Edwin Schlossberg.

I question Obama's mindset here. Ok great a female ambassador for a male dominated society, but one with no foreign relations experience? Particularly at a time when Japan is pushing forward with TPP and other security issues?

1 ( +9 / -6 )

This is a sign America trusts Japan as an allied country where there is no serious issues existing between the two countries. Having said so, it also means Japan weighs less for America today. I wish a female ambassador will alleviate tensions arising from Okinawa.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I wish a female ambassador will alleviate tensions arising from Okinawa.

How do you envision that occurring?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Ambassadors are largely figureheads and Caroline will have a high profile by virtue of her name and celebrity status(especially in Japan). She won't be negotiating TPP or doing any heavy lifting. She'll be fine.

7 ( +8 / -2 )

There are diplomat jobs awarded based on merit. In some cases you don't even need a college degree. But they're not easy to get.. It's who you know or who you get to know now a days. There has always been a list of ambassadors to various countries and their lack of qualifications but it was the relationship that got them appointed. In this case it was just politically appointed. As some people say as long as your skilled and educated in the fine art of cocktail parties and corridor deals you'll do fine. Sometimes people do look down on political appointees with a sort of bemusement. If you are a big donor to the political campaigns opportunities do open up. After all you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. But seriously if you do want to become an ambassador, it will probably take you 20 years or more if you go the career State Department route, and that's if your lucky, politically popular, and very talented.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Caroline will have career diplomats that will run the day to day affairs of the US Embassy. As far as her being the first women appointed to the position of US Ambassador to Japan; there has to be a first for everything.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Some people are missing the point with this type of posting. It is about access to the White House, which the Japanese govt expects and wants. They know that she has it (which Roos also had), plus the connotations of her family history. The Japanese media will eat this up. The day-to-day grunt work is carried out by seasoned career diplomats of the State Dept and other agencies. Her role is to drive an overall agenda and provide leadership in a general sense.

7 ( +6 / -0 )

"I question Obama's mindset here. Ok great a female ambassador for a male dominated society, but one with no foreign relations experience? Particularly at a time when Japan is pushing forward with TPP and other security issues?"

@Yubaru:

As it stated in the article, Japan took it as a slight with the appointment of the last ambassador, because of the lack of name recognition and prestige. No name within politics or the Democratic party gets much bigger and better than "Kennedy" And as paulinusa commented previously, she will have a staff and caretakers..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well. Japanese men ought to be scared, very scared. She will work to empower Japanese women here in Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

How about an Ambassador who knows Japan and studied about it deeply like Mansfield or Reischauer? The US used to have Japan experts as Ambassadors to Japan....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It is about access to the White House,

I believe so. It is ALL about access to the White House.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@David Wagner: Who do you recommend? US is full of self claimed middle east experts Are there any Japan experts? Did they visit Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about an Ambassador who knows Japan and studied about it deeply like Mansfield or Reischauer? The US used to have Japan experts as Ambassadors to Japan....

Seems that the US cares less about substance and more about appearances.

s it stated in the article, Japan took it as a slight with the appointment of the last ambassador, because of the lack of name recognition and prestige. No name within politics or the Democratic party gets much bigger and better than "Kennedy" And as paulinusa commented previously, she will have a staff and caretakers.

I read the article thank you, and btw, this isn't what Japan was thinking about when they talked about name recognition. A rookie female, no more no less, the Japanese will treat her will all due respect to her face, and then be condescending as hell behind her back.

It's obvious from this choice that Obama does not find Japan to be a high priority. Even at a time when the US is talking about (and doing it) shifting it's forces towards a more Pacific footing, the territorial disputes that Japan has with China and Korea, with Japan expecting the US to back them up. But with an ambassador that has no experience and is just a "name"?

Not a smart move in my opinion.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan will be the place to start the test of her political competence.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I question Obama's mindset here. Ok great a female ambassador for a male dominated society, but one with no foreign relations experience? Particularly at a time when Japan is pushing forward with TPP and other security issues?

Obama himself had absolutely no foreign relations experience when he ran for president, in fact, he didn't even possess a passport. He also had no profesional experience in the private sector, nor did he have any education or experience in economics, the military, or any other field which he now overlooks. Kennedy is the perfect choice.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I think the JET Program is having an effect on political appointments. I look forward to reading Caroline's blog on 'Life in my school/diplomatic post'!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As long as she isn't another April Glaspie. Wait maybe it doesn't matter since Japan can't do anything to China, Taiwan, or the Korea's. So does it really matter who is name ambassador to Japan? The understanding and expertise of the US Ambassador to China is much more critical.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

She suffered further tragedies when her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, died in 1994

Its not exactly a "tragedy" when a 64 year-old dies of cancer. Sad, yes. Tragedy, no.

1 ( +6 / -4 )

"All in the family." Play the music. She will probably do well, but do give her any sympathy for what happened when she was a child. It was a tragic event for the world, but she has to prove herself.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

She's a great choice, Japan normally takes orders from US so no matter who comes for the job we will still listen, so its a easy job for her.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Obama himself had absolutely no foreign relations experience when he ran for president, in fact, he didn't even possess a passport. He also had no profesional experience in the private sector, nor did he have any education or experience in economics, the military, or any other field which he now overlooks. Kennedy is the perfect choice.

This has nothing to do with Obama's experience, and his lack of judgement is showing through here BIG time. Kennedy is in no way the "perfect choice". The Japanese will praise her to her face, and then laugh behind her back.

This is just another example of Obama putting the Japanese on the back burner, way back, and not caring about what happens. There are MAJOR issues regarding Japan and the US that are going to be politically charged, America's realignment of forces in the Pacific, the territorial disputes that Japan has ongoing, and will want the US to back them , not to mention the base issues in Okinawa, and the most recent one, about barrels and barrels of PCP chemicals being unearthed in some returned land that was used as a soccer field. The list is HUGE.

This is a bad choice by far!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Great. Can't we let the Kennedys go? There is absolutely nothing special about this person (I didn't use woman because I don't want to be labeled misogynistic) besides her name. This seems like a good 'ol boys (girls?) nomination and nothing more.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

She will work to empower Japanese women here in Japan.

Agreed. Ironic that a name synonymous with womanizing and shenanigans of all sorts would have the temerity to come to Japan and start advising them on gender issues. But being incapable off accomplishing anything useful, I suspect that's exactly what she will do.

This appointment is lame beyond belief given the current political and economic climate in this region.

-1 ( +2 / -4 )

And how much was her campaign donation?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

To the posters that think this is a bad idea, are you kidding!?!? You obviously don't know Japan. To have her posted here will delight the media and the Foreign Ministry. Remember, the job of Ambassador here is not to negotiate anything serious, it's basically having parties and showing that US- Japan relations are strong. In fact, the FM already said "her nomination reflects the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan - US alliance"

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"I read the article thank you, and btw, this isn't what Japan was thinking about when they talked about name recognition. A rookie female, no more no less, the Japanese will treat her will all due respect to her face, and then be condescending as hell behind her back.

It's obvious from this choice that Obama does not find Japan to be a high priority. Even at a time when the US is talking about (and doing it) shifting it's forces towards a more Pacific footing, the territorial disputes that Japan has with China and Korea, with Japan expecting the US to back them up. But with an ambassador that has no experience and is just a "name"?

Not a smart move in my opinion."

@Yubaru:

Who would you have liked for him to choose? Anyone in particular?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"How about an Ambassador who knows Japan and studied about it deeply like Mansfield or Reischauer? The US used to have Japan experts as Ambassadors to Japan...."

The USA eventually concluded that having a Japan expert serve in Tokyo as ambassador would be more problematic than beneficial. This was related to the growing perception (from the 1980s, when the "revisionist" view of Japan became prominent) that Japan experts were more than likely to overly sympathize with Tokyo rather than advancing America's national interests, which is what ambassadors are supposed to do. President Johnson in the 1960s once remarked that the Japanese government ought to pay half of Reischauer's salary, given the priority that the latter gave to Japan's interests over those of his own country. Mansfield came to be seen as a bit of a pushover as well. The pattern since 1993 (Walter Mondale, Thomas Foley, Howard Baker, Thomas Schieffer, John Roos, now Caroline Kennedy) has been to install high-profile individuals or buddies of the president as ambassador to Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All these issues TPP, territorial disputes, bases in Okinawa and so on, are not issues that an ambassador deals with directly. The role of ambassador is to maintain good relations with the host nation, and promote their own nation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I reckon she is a good choice.

She'll do a good job.

Japan can learn a bit about (and from) her and she can learn a bit about (and from) Japan.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Delighted! A perfect choice.

Welcome, Caroline!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meguroman:

Some people are missing the point with this type of posting. It is about access to the White House, which the Japanese govt expects and wants. They know that she has it (which Roos also had), plus the connotations of her family history. The Japanese media will eat this up. The day-to-day grunt work is carried out by seasoned career diplomats of the State Dept and other agencies. Her role is to drive an overall agenda and provide leadership in a general sense.

...who have been doing a cr@p job lately.

Odd that she's being appointed for her access to the White House, when it's a very different administration from the time her father was in office. That political party has changed so much in the past 50 years that I doubt her father would support their current agenda. Brand loyalty is more important than principles, I guess.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To the posters that think this is a bad idea, are you kidding!?!? You obviously don't know Japan.

Or perhaps you have no idea what Japan wants?

To have her posted here will delight the media

I have no doubt that the wide show flunkeys will be delighted. So what? Delighting the media is fairly easy to do in Japan. In fact the less substance a person actually has, the more delighted the media will be to talk about them. Hardly seems like something we should be taking into consideration when selecting an ambassador.

and the Foreign Ministry.

Oh, do you have the ear of someone in the Ministry then? Cause I'm going to need a link for that supposition. If anything I think the FM will be (privately of course) irritated by having to deal with such a greenhorn.

Remember, the job of Ambassador here is not to negotiate anything serious, it's basically having parties and showing that US- Japan relations are strong.

Really? Parties? I've read that the ambassador "is the eye of the government s/he serves, specially directed to a particular spot, and s/he ought to be thoroughly acquainted with the course of policy, the movements of parties, the character and disposition of individual statesmen, and the material and commercial resources of the country in which s/he resides." It goes without saying that Ms Kennedy was not selected for her superior knowledge of the Pacific Rim in general or Japan in particular. She probably does throw a good party though ....

In fact, the FM already said "her nomination reflects the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan - US alliance"

Yeah of course he's going to say that. In reality sending a lame duck like Kennedy shows that Obama places little importance on relationship. I'm sure the FM is well aware of that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am a bit disappointed the Obama administration did not choose a Japanese-American to serve in Tokyo, which has never been the case before. The current US Ambassador to South Korea is a man named Sung Kim, who was born in Seoul. I guess massive immigration over the last half-century has produced a large group of highly qualified, bilingual Korean-Americans while similarly qualified Japanese-American counterparts are far smaller in number. Still, Obama could have considered somebody like Kathy Matsui, author of the "Womenomics" report, Goldman Sachs Japan employee, and a Harvard graduate like Caroline Kennedy (minus the advantage of having a family legacy at Harvard).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

that has historically ranked lower than other wealthy nations in terms of women’s empowerment.

Not in my family.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The whole idea is bad bad bad!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites