Caroline Kennedy boosted US-Japan ties as US ambassador

Caroline Kennedy boosted US-Japan ties as US ambassador

TOKYO — Caroline Kennedy stepped down Wednesday after three years as U.S. ambassador to Japan, where she was welcomed like a celebrity and worked to deepen the U.S.-Japan relationship despite regular flare-ups over American military bases on the southern island of Okinawa.

Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, she had been expected to leave with the coming change in U.S. leadership. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has also said that all envoys who were political appointees must step down by Inauguration Day on Friday. Trump has not named a new ambassador yet.

Kennedy ruffled some feathers early in her tenure by tweeting her opposition to Japan’s dolphin hunt, shortly after her embassy issued a statement expressing “disappointment” that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had visited a shrine that memorializes World War II war criminals, among others.

During her time, though, the conservative Abe and liberal Obama found common ground despite coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

“She has great skills and authority as a convener, a much needed function in U.S.-Japan relations,” said Kent Calder, the director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. “She has been more of a network builder than a concrete policy initiator, but that is almost an inevitable role for ambassadors these days.”

He said her legacy includes facilitating Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima last May, one of two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. atomic bombs in 1945. Kennedy was in Pearl Harbor at the end of last year when Abe reciprocated with a visit to the site of Japan’s 1941 surprise attack that drew America into World War II.

Some will also remember the efforts of the first female U.S. ambassador to Japan to promote literacy and women’s and LGBT rights, and for her visits to the northeast region slowly recovering from a deadly and destructive tsunami in 2011.

“She was true to the Obama administration goals, and she maintained the Kennedy mystique without making it the focal point of her tenure,” said Nancy Snow, a professor of public diplomacy at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. “I will remember her as a champion of person-to-person exchange and engagement.”

Winning understanding in Okinawa for a reduced but still large U.S. military presence proved an impossible task, and was hampered by a series of incidents from crimes by U.S. base personnel to crashes of U.S. military aircraft.

“In every ambassadorship, there are both enduring issues and unpredictable events,” she told Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri, in a farewell interview. “In my case, both were linked to Okinawa.”

The daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy arrived in November 2013 to more fanfare than the typical envoy. Thousands of onlookers lined streets to snap pictures and wave as she travelled by horse-drawn carriage to present her credentials to Japan’s emperor. The procession was broadcast live on Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

Her popularity strained embassy resources, a 2015 U.S. government report found, because of the demands for her participation in events across the country. It noted that the embassy “has now caught up on the backlog of gifts sent to the ambassador in her first six months in Japan.”

Now 59, Kennedy is returning to her Manhattan home with husband Edwin Schlossberg, who split his time between Tokyo and New York. She hasn’t indicated publicly what her future plans are.

___

Online: Kennedy’s farewell video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPcI7txv6V0&feature=youtu.be

Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours fought to extinguish Langley house fire

Firefighters arrived to find citizens dousing a blaze climbing through the walls of a Langley home.

Dear Santa: the Langley Advance presents local children’s letters to the jolly old elf

During the holidays, the Langley Advance will present letters to Santa. Here is the first selection.

Langley’s assistant lacrosse captain tallies up five goals in Calgary loss

Stealth fell to Roughnecks, but hoping for comeback on Dec. 29 in New England.

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

VIDEO: Hankering for a piece of Star Wars?

A massive Star Wars memorabilia collection is going on the auction block in Langley.

VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read