Caroline Kennedy, daughter of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, is on her way to becoming US ambassador to Japan, or so suggested American media reports on Monday. Sources revealed that President Obama offered Kennedy the high-profile post and that White House vetting procedures are now taking place.
Despite her non-diplomatic background, Caroline Kennedy graduated from Harvard and Columbia Universities and is now a well-known philanthropist, lawyer and author. She has worked with the John F, Kennedy Library and the American Ballet Theatre, both Non-Profit Organisations. In close contact with politics from a young age, she has been an active supporter of Obama since his 2008 campaign and recently considered standing for the New York Democratic Senate seat in 2008/2009. Her appointment to such a challenging post would propel her into the kind of public life familiar to the Kennedy family. Her grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was American ambassador to Britain from 1938-1940 and Obama’s nomination of Ms Kennedy for the high-profile position suggests that he feels she has the diplomatic ability to follow in her ancestor’s footsteps.
Yet many are questioning Ms Kennedy’s suitability for the role, suggesting she has little experience in either politics or diplomacy and no affiliation with Japan. Indeed, this may be problematic as the future ambassador will face some severe diplomatic issues, particularly relating to North Korea’s military threats against the United States; Japanese participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks (TPP) talks as well as tension between Japan and the U.S over the existence of U.S military bases in Okinawa. She will also be expected to continue the fantastic work done by existing ambassador, John V. Roos after the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan in 2011, and the problems in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant which resulted from the natural disaster.
Despite these doubts, Japanese foreign-policy specialist at Akita International University, Takashi Koyama believes that Japanese response to Ms Kennedy’s appointment would certainly be positive: “This will be welcomed by the Japanese people. The fact that she is the daughter of J.F.K., who is fondly remembered in Japan, will give her a very positive image.” The US is Japan’s largest economic partner and military ally and certainly Kennedy’s popularity can only be beneficial to the countries’ vital relationship. She would be the first female representative of the US in Japan and this, many suggest, will boost Japanese progress towards gender equality in the workplace.
Sources include: The Guardian, CNN, Japan Today, The Telegraph
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