It seems that the Obama administration’s appointment of Caroline Kennedy is
taken favorably among the public on both sides of the Pacific. As shown in the
following video, of CBS News on April 2, the family name of Kennedy nurtures
charismatic romanticism which is associated with the tragic legend of an
idealist president John F. Kennedy. On this program, historian Robert Dallek commented that
the Ambassador Kennedy would represent the best of American culture.
Jun Okumura, Senior Analyst at the Eurasia Group, mentions furthermore, “In this age of rapid communications, the real decisions are made at home anyway,” and “The ambassadors are largely symbols these days. What it does say is that there are no major problems in the Japan-US relationship; it’s still a safe appointment, like to Britain or France” (“Why CarolineKennedy is likely to get a warm welcome in Japan”; Christian Science Monitor;April 2, 2013). Certainly, American presidents appointed political fundraisers to the ambassadors to Britain in reward of contribution to their election victory, as typically seen in the case of Joseph Kennedy.
However, in view of growing security challenges of China and North Korea, and complexity of Okinawa US base issues, some opinion leaders prefer much more professional ambassador to Tokyo. Remember that the Ambassador to Japan represents America’s strategic interests beyond Japan. No other places in the world are so ideally located than the Japanese archipelago to watch security challenges from Hawaii to the Indian Ocean. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is right to emphasize such strategic value repeatedly. Newly appointed ambassador must be well aware of this.
The next ambassador must speak softly, and carry a big stick