Caroline Kennedy Not a Serious Choice for U.S. Ambassador to Japan

No experience in diplomacy or politics


but she's a kennedy

President Obama may be just weeks away from selecting Caroline Kennedy, JFK's daughter, as U.S. ambassador to Japan. It's a choice as unserious as it appears.

Writing for Foreign Policy, Clyde Prestowitz reviews the history of post-world war II ambassadors to Japan, starting with JFK's nomination of Harvard Japan scholar Edwin Reischauer in 1961. That nomination, Prestowitz says, signaled to Japan that Kennedy was serious about the country and its relationship with the U.S. It led to the nominations of people like Mike Mansfield, a former Senate majority leader, and Tom Foley, a former Speaker of the House. Barack Obama broke that mold, according to Prestowitz, when he selected a top fundraiser from Silicon Valley to represent the U.S. in Japan during his first term. As for Caroline Kennedy? Writes Prestowitz:

I'm sure she's a lovely person and a good lawyer and author and, of course, she comes from a prominent American family and was wise enough to choose the right father. Even more wisely, she supported Barack Obama politically at a critical moment.

But she knows little of Japan, speaks no Japanese, and is not particularly experienced in world affairs and diplomacy. Here we are at a moment when China and Japan are at loggerheads over the Senkaku Islands. This could easily turn into a shooting conflict. North Korea is saying that it is in a state of war with South Korea and that it is turning on its nuclear generator. And the United States is trying to conclude a major international free trade agreement in which the United States and Japan will be the major players. In short, this is a serious moment—a Reischauer moment.

But this appointment is an ornamental one. It tries to evoke the good feeling of the Kennedy years, but without the substance of those years.

Do you think Caroline might have the good sense to turn it down and urge Obama to imitate her dad with a Reischauer-like appointment?

Kennedy abandoned a bid to be nominated to replace Hillary Clinton when the latter vacated her Senate seat after a lackluster media tour. She is starting to face similar resistance to the potential appointment as ambassador to Japan, and Fox News spoke with the American Foreign Services Association, a union for foreign service workers:

The union points out that roughly one-third of the president's first-term appointments have come from such non-diplomatic ranks as politics, fundraising and academia – a rate slightly higher than the historical average for presidents. And the rate is as high as 85 percent for major European countries and Japan, which are seen as plum diplomatic assignments.

"The sale of ambassadorships and rewards for political support basically suggests we really don't value diplomacy," union President Susan Johnson told FoxNews.com.

But it also signals the president is ready and willing to reward his supporters richly!

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  1. Obama wasn’t a serious choice to be President. That didn’t stop him from getting the job did it?

    1. Sure. But any idiot can be president, as we have seen several times. The ambassador to Japan ought to at least speak Japanese, I would think.

      1. Or at least own some Hello Kitty merchandise.

        If you’re going to Japan, you might as well have some images of their god.

        1. Or have pony tails and look good in a catholic school girl uniform.

    2. He’s definitely not serious about the job as president. All he knows is lavishing riches on himself, friends and family.

      1. It’s the Chicago Way, practiced at the national level.

    3. Mitt Romney, serious business.

  2. Given the fact that the Liberal Democratic Party (which has ruled Japan since the end of WW-II almost without break in power) was bankrolled by the CIA as a reliable anti-communist bulwark throughout the 50-s and 60-s, and given the fact that Obama has almost no control of the CIA, his appointment of a lightweight as ambassador really means little.

    The CIA – LDP nexus is where the real serious communication takes place.

    1. Naturally “anti-war” libertarians support communism as long as the brown and yellow people suffer.

      1. Yeah. And if you don’t support mandatory attendance at public schools, you are opposed to education. And if you don’t support the war on drugs, you are in favor of drug addiction.

        1. And if you don’t support the war on drugs, you are in favor of drug addiction.
          That is reason’s attitude isn’t it?

          Also you should read Rockwell and Raimondo.

          1. Did you really change your handle to ‘CytotIxic’ or is that just a typo??

          2. “That is reason’s attitude isn’t it?”

            Huh? And you didn’t bother to refute his point. Just because you don’t think the US government should take the taxpayers’ money to give to foreign governments and send the military around the world doesn’t mean you support dictatorships in other countries.

          3. that’s too smart to be the real Cyto!

      2. See you have decided to extend your stay at the STRAW-Bridge Inn.

  3. How’s Mondale doing? Didn’t he used to have this job?

    1. Should appoint him and Dukakis as co-ambassadors so they can get that peace price with John Kerry.

    2. Fra Jerry speaks Japanese and would probably like a chance to leave California while we’re still projecting a balanced budget.

  4. Isn’t a bit late to bitching about the lack of “seriousness” (whatever that is supposed to mean) from Obama?

  5. I probably know more about Japan than Caroline Kennedy just from watching Japanese porn. If I ever become ambassador, I’m going to ask them why they all have 8-bit genitalia.

    1. i bet she gets sharked at her first presser in Tokyo.

  6. Wouldn’t you have to actively lobby for an ambassadorship before the President would go out on a limb and nominate you publicly? I bet her friends have been fucking with her head trying to convince her she’d make a great ambassador to Japan and she fell for it. Well, nice prank, a-holes.

  7. What’s an Ambassadorship go for, these days?

  8. Sometimes man, you jsut have to smack dat ass!


    1. What do you mean sometimes?

  9. Can’t we send all the Kennedys to Japan? I think that’s a great place for them.

    1. I know Bill Halsey said “Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell,” but that doesn’t actually mean that Japan is now Hell.

      1. Give them a decade of Kennedys in charge and it will be.

  10. Do you think Caroline might have the good sense to turn it down and urge Obama to imitate her dad with a Reischauer-like appointment?

    Are you fucking kidding??? She’s a KENNEDY. That’s Gaelic for “leach off the public tit, fucking up everything in sight and sticking the rest of us with the bill.” Roughly, anyway.

  11. What a disappointment to hear that President Obama will select Ms. Caroline Kennedy as next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. This is not the best way to demonstrate to USF-Japan, Japanese Government, or the Asia-Pacific region that America highly values the strategic alliances in APAC.

    Instead of lowering the bar to meet her capabilities?isn’t the Mission of the U.S. Ambassador to Japan all about appointing the best people to protect America’s civil and military interests with professional expertise? Why is it that these crucial Ambassadorial appointments do not take into consideration any: Credentials, Local Expertise, cross-border business or personal connections, understanding of military activities, or even a concerted desire for a posting?

  12. Let’s review the (weak) credentials Ms. Kennedy needed to get this Ambassadorial consideration: in a Time Magazine interview on 13May2002, she stated that she saw her future as a Writer; then changing that, she attempted to use her Kennedy name and daddy’s money to step into the Senate-seat vacated by Ms. Hillary Clinton, but failed miserably in that effort (mostly because she is secretive about important issues, and did not want to tell about her $100-million dollars). Then she ‘expressed a passing interest’ in being U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Ireland, the Vatican (refused to have her), UK, etc., but did not get those either. She reminds me of Katy Perry song about changing minds like changing clothes. She worked part-time (3-days a week) for the NY Department of Education as a fund-raiser for school systems (that isn’t helpful in Japan) at salary of $1 (I guess it was lucky she had those $100-million in savings); and worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (not helpful unless Japan becomes a big Arts donor); she represented her family at a couple funerals and park-dedications; she donated $2300 to Ms. Clinton’s Campaign Fund?oh, yes?she stumped for President Obama and wrote a nice article in the press praising him. She also wrote a nice piece about her field-trip visiting Graceland in Rolling Stone, so I guess that shows she can write.

  13. She gathered some campaign donations as well. She certainly is a noteworthy orator (vitally important for an Ambassador)?having said ‘You Know’ 168-times during a 30-minute interview with NY1. Perhaps the Japanese Government will be impressed with that capability; it will certainly make all the official USA/Japan meeting transcripts much longer.

    However, America should be asking if these credentials are sufficient to champion our interests and protect our citizens in Japan? Doesn’t Japan deserve better than someone rejected by so many others; why scrape the bottom of the barrel?

  14. As an exercise to demonstrate that merit has no weight in these Ambassadorial decisions, I contrast Ms. Kennedy’s credentials against another American.

    I heard that another American (Michael J. Erickson) has tirelessly campaigned for the posting of U.S. Ambassador to Japan for several years without even getting a professional acknowledgement or response. He expressed his desire and presented his credentials numerous times through various channels to President Obama; Secretaries of State Clinton & Kerry; White House Director-Communications; every member of the House/Senate Foreign Affairs/Relations Committees; every State Governor; every State Chamber of Commerce; a dozen other sitting Senators/Representatives; and even the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

  15. Perhaps he did not have such financial resources as Ms. Kennedy (he is a commoner). However, he thought his expertise and credentials might be praise-worthy: He is an Honorably Retired US Marine, who served two tours of duty in Okinawa/Japan defending American interests, including an important posting at MCAS Iwakuni (where American and Japan government are creating a dual civil/military airport. He has supported American companies on US Government Trade Missions (Depts. of State, Energy, and Commerce) to Japan in an effort to bring American technologies to the Environmental Remediation of Fukushima Prefecture. He supported the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in their acquisition of Japanese aviation technologies for the D.O.T. Tech Center; He led his company to capture important Defense Contracts at US military bases in Japan. As a Stakeholder with business interests in both America and Japan, he offered his support to the US Trade Representative (USTR) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as offering TPP consulting support to various States that are heavily involved in American/Japanese business (e.g. California; New Jersey; Virginia; etc.).

  16. Mr. Erickson has lived/worked in Tokyo for the past 10-years, supporting American & Japanese B2B teaming for dozens of companies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Uniquely for an American, he has supported Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) in aviation master plan studies in countries such as Philippines; Indonesia; Vietnam; Cambodia; Lao; etc. He helped the Japanese Government to create the entire ICAO-based Aviation English Testing Program for Pilots & Air Traffic Controllers, personally testing more than 2500 Japanese aviators in a 6-month period. He is an expert on Japanese Business & Culture: he speaks Japanese; is married to a Japanese Citizen; has a 3-year old daughter born at Yokosuka Naval Hospital.

    I guess although he has many of the Reischauer virtues…none of Mr. Erickson’s technical capabilities, expertise, multi-lateral, multi-lingual, cross-border credentials are as important to shepherding American interests in Japan?when stacked-up against Ms. Kennedy and her money, right?

  17. This is a fantastic story written by Ed Krayewski. It identifies the most important facts…that U.S. Ambassador to Japan cannot just be a rich socialite with no experience in Japan or even Asia-Pacific. There are real, world-impacting events heating-up in Japan and the surrounding APAC region. America, and Japan, need a U.S. Ambassador that truly understands the Military activities & Mission in Japan/Okinawa; the strategic redistribution and realignment of Military Bases (e.g. Futenma, MCAS Iwakuni, and Guam). The Ambassador needs to be able to speak intelligently with the Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers from a perspective of hands-on, subject matter expertise. The Ambassador must understand the intricasies and key political, economic, and cultural concerns the Japanese and Americans have about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

  18. The Ambassador should understand the challenges that Japan is facing with regard to Fukushima Prefecture and Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and how to support the American businesses striving to become more involved in supporting Japan (even if only an overview/top-down understanding).

    The U.S. Ambassador needs historically-direct and quantifiable, in-country experience at facilitating B2B relationships between American & Japanese companies; needs to understand the Japanese Business and Social Culture, Etiquette, and Protocols better than what can be read in a Governmental Briefing Sheet on the plane over to Tokyo. The Ambassador should at least have understanding of the Japanese language. The Ambassador needs to be able to speak from experience and instill confidence in those living in Japan: American Citizens, U.S. Military Servicepeople and their Dependent Families, as well as the Japanese. The only thing that Ms. Kennedy can bring to Japan is her poems and understanding of tea-parties. Americans, and Japanese, deserve someone more qualified. Caroline Kennedy is NOT !!!

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