President Obama nominated Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, to be ambassador to Japan on Wednesday.
Kennedy, whose early and strong support for Obama’s 2008 bid gave his candidacy a key boost in helping him win the nomination over then- front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, had been expected to get a top job in the administration.
Washington, to show how much it values the bilateral relationship, has usually sent highly regarded elder statesmen to the country.
Kennedy’s predecessors include luminaries such as former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield, former vice president Walter Mondale, former House speaker Tom Foley and former Senate majority leader Howard Baker.
And while the former first daughter does not have their legislative experience — and scant experience in Japan — Camelot is well-remembered in that country.
President Kennedy’s moves to improve relations with Japan — including dispatching Robert Kennedy on a mission to repair ties and naming scholar Edwin O. Reischauer as ambassador — have been fondly remembered.
But, if confirmed by the Senate, Kennedy would be taking over at a time when the U.S.-Japanese relationship is again frayed over the U.S. military presence there and other security and economic issues.
Kennedy is a lawyer and president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She also chairs an advisory committee at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. She was a longtime member of the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.