Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former US President John F. Kennedy, was nominated by Barack Obama for the role of ambassador to Japan.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kennedy would be the first woman to serve as envoy to Japan and would go into her highest-profile public role.
The sole surviving member of a prominent family, Kennedy has largely shunned political life and trained as a lawyer.
She helped propel Obama to the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, the only time she endorsed a presidential candidate other than her uncle Ted Kennedy in 1980.
Experts said Kennedy’s nomination raised concerns on her lack of experience to deal with thorny issues with Japan, a crucial US ally in Asia. But other factors, such as her close relationship with Obama and her gender, would appeal to the Japanese, said Thomas Berger, an international relations professor at Boston University.
“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.”
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tokyo appreciated the nomination as “reflecting the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan-US alliance.”