President Obama on Wednesday nominated former first daughter Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Japan, offering the most famous living member of a prominent American family a new role of service to country.
The White House earlier notified the Senate of the nomination and announced it today.
Kennedy, an attorney and bestselling book editor, is being rewarded for helping put Mr. Obama in the White House where her father served until his assassination 50 years ago. If confirmed, she would be the first woman in a post where many other prominent Americans have served to strengthen a vital Asian tie.
Kennedy helped propel Mr. Obama to the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in a celebrated endorsement over Hillary Rodham Clinton – the only time she’s endorsed a presidential candidate other than her uncle Ted Kennedy in 1980. She played a prominent role, particularly in courting female voters by headlining events in toss up states for Mr. Obama in both his presidential campaigns.
She was a co-chair of Mr. Obama’s vice presidential search committee and in the 2012 race served as one of 35 national co-chairs of his re-election campaign. She called Mr. Obama “the kind of leader my father wrote about in ‘Profiles in Courage'” during a prime-time speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Japan is one of the United States’ most important trading and military partners and accustomed since the end of World War II to having renowned American political leaders serve as envoy. Former U.S. ambassadors to Japan include former Vice President Walter Mondale, former House Speaker Tom Foley and former Senate Majority Leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker.
Kennedy doesn’t have any obvious ties to Japan, a key ally in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. She would replace John Roos, a wealthy former Silicon Valley lawyer and top Obama campaign fundraiser.