Caroline Kennedy to meet Japan emperor

Caroline Kennedy to meet Japan emperor

TOKYO - Caroline Kennedy will meet Japan's Emperor Akihito Tuesday in a ceremonial formality as she takes up the US ambassador post, just days ahead of the 50th anniversary of her father's assassination.

Kennedy, 55, the lone surviving child of John F. Kennedy, is to be taken to downtown Tokyo's imperial palace in a horse-drawn carriage, in an elaborate procession accompanied by palace officials dressed in European-style ceremonial attire.

She will briefly meet with the revered emperor and hand him a letter from Washington confirming her status, a common diplomatic gesture by top envoys to Japan.

Her appointment has drawn significant media attention in Japan with broadcasters promising live coverage of the event which starts around 3:00 pm local time (0600 GMT).

New ambassadors to Japan are offered the choice of the elaborate carriage ride along a 1.8 kilometre (1.1 mile) route from central Tokyo station or a car ride from their residence.

Most choose the carriage ride.

Kennedy's meeting comes days before the November 22nd anniversary of her father's assassination in Dallas.

The scion of US political royalty arrived in Tokyo on Friday and told reporters she was hoping to boost Washington's alliance with Tokyo.

"It is a special honour for me to be able to work to strengthen the close ties between our two great countries," she told reporters.

"Our alliance is critical to a prosperous and peaceful world," she added in a brief speech, accompanied by her husband, Edwin Schlossberg.

Kennedy is the first female US ambassador to the Asian giant, which consistently ranks lower than other wealthy nations on women's empowerment in politics and business.

Kennedy's appointment has been hailed in Japan, although some critics have voiced concern at having a diplomatic novice in the important post at a time of high tensions between the close US ally and a rising China.

Kennedy has largely shunned the limelight though she has publicly championed her family's brand of progressive politics.

She played a pivotal role in the Democratic Party's primary in 2008 where she was an early and vocal backer of Obama against perceived front-runner Hillary Clinton.

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