Caroline Kennedy takes public office in Japan, 50 years after JFK's death

15.11.2013 14:07

TOKYO - Caroline Kennedy, daughter of
slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy ,
arrived in Japan on Friday to take up
her first high profile job in public
office, making a late start to a political
career for which her family is
Kennedy, sworn in as U.S. ambassador
two days ago, received a warm
welcome at Tokyo's Narita Airport,
smiling and waving at reporters, and
carrying a bouquet of flowers.
The 55-year-old lawyer takes up the
post a week before the 50th
anniversary of her father's
Kennedy, the first female U.S.
ambassador to Japan, was an early and
prominent supporter of Barack Obama
in his initial quest for the presidency in
2008, and also campaigned for him.
"I bring greetings from President
Obama ... I am honored to represent
him as the United States ambassador,"
she said. "I am also proud to carry
forward my father's legacy of public
Kennedy worked briefly for education
authorities in New York, and
contemplated, but later abandoned, a
run for a New York Senate seat in
In a video greeting to the people of
Japan released on the internet on
Wednesday, Kennedy said she had
studied Japanese art and history, and
made several trips to Japan, including a
visit to Hiroshima - where the first
atomic bomb was dropped - when she
was 20.
"It left me with a profound desire to
work for a better, more peaceful
world," she said, adding that she had
also visited Japan on her honeymoon.
Though Caroline's father visited Japan
once in 1951, he never visited the
country in the nearly three years that
he was president - a sharp contrast to
the present, when most presidents visit
within months of taking office.
Despite this, President Kennedy was
popular, his youth appealing to an
economically booming Japan, newly
confident as it prepared to host the
Summer Olympic Games in 1964.
A state visit was planned for January
1964, and an advance team, including
then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk, was
in the air en route to Tokyo for talks
when Kennedy was shot and killed in
Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
The plane turned around in mid-
Pacific and headed back.
Previous ambassadors to Japan have
included political heavyweights such as
former Vice President Walter Mondale,
but Japan welcomed Kennedy's
nomination since they felt her
closeness to Obama would be an
"The Japanese people feel closest to
her father of all presidents, and in that
sense I'd like to offer my hearty
welcome," said chief cabinet
spokesman Yoshihide Suga at a news
conference on Friday.
"I think she's a wonderful ambassador
to develop the Japan-U.S. relationship
further as she is said to be able to talk
directly with the president by phone."
Caroline is the only surviving child of
President Kennedy and his wife,
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Her
brother John F. Kennedy, Jr, died in a
1999 plane crash, while an older sister
was stillborn and another brother died
within days of his premature birth
while Kennedy was president.