WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama will appoint Caroline Kennedy, daughter of US President John F. Kennedy, as the next ambassador to Japan, Japanese and U.S sources said Friday. Obama is expected to officially announce the appointment soon.
Kennedy, a 55-year-old attorney, is expected to assume the post in autumn or later after being approved by the US Senate. She would succeed the current US ambassador, 58-year-old John Roos, to become the first female ambassador to Japan.
Kennedy joined Obama's campaign headquarters in the 2012 presidential election. After the election, her name surfaced as a strong candidate for ambassador to Canada or another major country. However, major news media in the United States have reported since April that she was asked to serve as ambassador to Japan.
The appointment of a member of the legendary Kennedy family, from which many politicians have emerged, is expected to draw attention in Japan and the United States.
Obama began appointing ambassadors to leading countries such as Britain and Italy this month. Kennedy will likely be nominated before Congress adjourns later this month. Some observers said her background check has taken time, as Kennedy owns many assets.
In 2009, Kennedy expressed interest in running for the Senate from New York, but ultimately gave up the idea. She has no experience in public office, and her diplomatic skills are unknown. She also has little connection with Japan.
However, the sources said the appointment of Kennedy, who can speak directly with Obama by phone, shows that the Obama administration values the relationship between the two countries.
Kennedy now serves as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston. She also engages in nonprofit activities to support education. She is married to a designer and has a son and two daughters. She has written books on US history and poetry for children.
The Kennedy family has produced many politicians, including her father, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963. Her paternal uncle Robert was attorney general, and later served as a US senator. He was assassinated during the presidential primary campaign in 1968.
Caroline Kennedy's paternal uncle Edward was a senator from 1963 through 2009.
Other members of the Kennedy family have joined the House of Representatives, including Joseph P. Kennedy III, who was elected to the House last year.