WASHINGTON — Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy and one of President Barack Obama’s most prominent supporters, was sworn in today as the U.S. ambassador to Japan. The ceremony, which was off limits to the media, was held in Secretary of State John Kerry’s outer office on the seventh floor of the State Department.
Kerry and William J. Burns, the deputy secretary of state, attended, as well as Kennedy’s husband, Edwin Schlossberg, and their son, John.
Kennedy, 55, a lawyer and an author who has served as the director of numerous nonprofit organizations, has never worked in government and has no special expertise in Japan. Kennedy replaced John V. Roos, a lawyer and major fundraiser for Obama. She is expected to leave for Japan on Thursday.
Kennedy’s close relationship with the White House has been the subject of speculation in Asia, and her appointment as ambassador will most likely be seen as an indication of Tokyo’s growing influence in Washington.
Testifying at her confirmation hearing, Kennedy said that she first visited Japan in 1978 with her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
“This appointment has a special significance as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of my father’s presidency,” she told the panel. “I am conscious of my responsibility to uphold the ideals he represented — a deep commitment to public service, a more just America and a more peaceful world.”
While Kennedy may not have firsthand ties to Japan, historians note that her father played a critical role as president in repairing the alliance between Japan and the United States.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has welcomed the nomination, noting that her choice reflected “the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan-U.S. alliance.”