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Published: Monday, 4/1/2013

Caroline Kennedy may be next U.S. ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON — Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, is close to being announced as 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 high-profile diplomatic posts. Bloomberg News and The Washington Post first reported that Kennedy was under consideration.

Kennedy was an early supporter of President Barack Obama, offering forceful backing as he battled Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election. She also served as a co-chairwoman of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

The diplomatic assignment would vault Kennedy, a lawyer and author, into the kind of public life that her father and uncles pursued for decades. Esther Newberg, the agent for Kennedy's current book, a compilation of poetry for young children, declined to comment on the author's behalf.

''She is on her book tour, actually, and that's the only thing she is talking about,” Newberg wrote in an email.

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.

Sending Kennedy to Japan would continue a long tradition by presidents of appointing high-profile people to that post. Those have included Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president; Mike Mansfield, the former Senate majority leader; and Tom Foley, the former speaker of the House.

Kennedy would arrive in Japan as a kind of celebrity, part of one of America's most famous political families and someone close to the current American president. She would replace John Roos, the former head of a Silicon Valley law firm.

In Japan, the next ambassador will face a nation still working to recover from the tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck 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 as the new leader in North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is making increasingly aggressive moves toward the United States and South Korea.



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