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Obama nominates Caroline Kennedy as US ambassador to Japan

The nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, marks the biggest foray into public service for Kennedy, who was an early supporter of Obama.

Caroline makes a speech at the Kennedy family homestead in Dunganstown, Co Wexford last month
Caroline makes a speech at the Kennedy family homestead in Dunganstown, Co Wexford last month
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has named John F. Kennedy’s sole surviving child Caroline Kennedy as US ambassador to Japan.

The nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, marks the biggest foray into public service for Kennedy, who was an early supporter of Obama.

The sole surviving child of assassinated president Kennedy takes over the ambassador’s residence in Tokyo at a time when Asia couldn’t be more important to US foreign policy.

Washington has its eyes on a newly belligerent North Korea, rising rival power China, and, as always, its close alliance with Japan. Even before she was named, many Japanese were excited at the prospect.

The government spokesman said her appointment “would deepen people’s feeling of friendliness” to the United States, because the “late President Kennedy was a figure familiar to many Japanese.”

Kennedy, 55, was in Ireland recently as part of the JFK50 celebrations, reenacting the famous tea-pouring scene that was captured by photographers when her father visited New Ross in 1963.

There’s a strong link between Caroline Kennedy and President Obama, whom she helped burst from relative obscurity in 2008, when he was taking on the far more powerful Democrat Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.

In a New York Times column titled “A President Like My Father” Kennedy wrote of never having seen a president who matched up to the way people still talked about JFK. Now, she said, “I believe I have found a man who could be that president.”

There will inevitably be questions about Caroline Kennedy’s suitability to the high-profile diplomatic job. However, political appointees in ambassador’s posts are common under both Democratic and Republican presidents, even if the practice sometimes backfires.

- additional reporting Hugh O’Connell

- © AFP, 2013

Read: “The Kennedys were more than emigrants” – 50 years on, Wexford remembers JFK

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