WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced he would nominate Caroline Kennedy, a close friend and key political ally, as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.
The daughter of President John F. Kennedy, the 55-year-old Kennedy is president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She has written and edited books, most of them related to the Kennedy family and its legacy, but has never held a government post.
The ambassadorship is a major diplomatic assignment, and her appointment comes at an important moment. Japan is embroiled in conflict with China over control of disputed island chains, and is struggling, under a new government, to restore the nation’s stalled economic growth.
Obama has described Kennedy as “one of my dearest friends.” In early 2008, she was crucial to the success of his presidential campaign by throwing the Kennedy family support to his side, rather than Hillary Clinton’s. Kennedy was co-chairman of his 2012 presidential campaign.
The Japanese government formally approved Kennedy’s selection earlier this month.
Kennedy, if confirmed by the Senate, will be the first woman to hold the Tokyo ambassadorship.