WASHINGTON — Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is likely to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, according to people familiar with the appointment process.
The vetting of Kennedy by the White House is almost complete, and an appointment could be announced in the coming weeks, along with the names of several other choices for important diplomatic posts.
Kennedy, 55, was an early supporter of President Obama in the 2008 presidential election. She also served as a co-chairwoman of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Kennedy, a lawyer and the author of 10 books, is the president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the chairwoman of the senior advisory committee at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She would replace John Roos, the former head of a Silicon Valley law firm. Kennedy’s grandfather, Joseph Kennedy Sr., served as ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940.
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White House officials declined to comment on Kennedy. Jay Carney, the press secretary, said he had “no personnel announcements to make” about ambassador appointments. Asked to comment on Kennedy’s qualifications to serve as ambassador to Japan, Carney declined.
Kennedy does not have any obvious connection to Japan, but she would arrive in Tokyo as a kind of celebrity — a member of one of America’s most famous families and someone close to the president. Sending her to Tokyo would continue a long presidential tradition of appointing well-known American political figures to the post. Former American ambassadors to Japan include Walter Mondale, the former vice president; Mike Mansfield, the former Senate majority leader; and Tom Foley, the former Speaker of the House from Spokane.
If nominated and confirmed, Kennedy will face a nation still working to recover from the tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. The ambassador will also be on the front lines of the president’s efforts to refocus American diplomacy on Asia.
The next envoy will arrive in Japan as North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, makes increasingly aggressive moves toward the United States and South Korea.
In 2009, Kennedy was thought to be a likely candidate to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate upon her confirmation as secretary of state.
But after a brief venture into the contact sport of New York politics, Kennedy took herself out of the running for the seat, citing a “very private family matter.”