Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, was sworn in Tuesday as ambassador to Japan.
A lawyer and an author, Kennedy has led numerous nonprofit organizations. She was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama after playing a role in his re-election campaign.
Although Kennedy lacked special expertise in Japan, she has a close relationship with the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry said during her swearing-in ceremony at the State Department. A reception in her honor was later held at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Washington, DC.
An envoy to Japan has to have “the ear of the president,” Kerry said. “And that, as we all know, is a vital thing in the conduct of foreign policy.”
Approved unanimously by the Senate last month, Kennedy will leave for Tokyo on Thursday to begin her work to strengthen crucial ties between the US and the Asian nation.
“My husband and I and my children are so excited to be going to Japan,” she said in brief remarks to reporters. “We look forward to meeting as many people as we can, to making new friends, visiting and studying the history and culture of this beatiful country that is such a strong partner to the United States in so many important efforts.”
She is also the first woman to serve as American ambassador in Tokyo, a post often reserved for political heavyweights.
“The arrival of the first woman ambassador is absolutely great for my country,” said Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to Washington. The assignment coincides with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call to expand women’s roles in driving the economy.
By Maesie Bertumen
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