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2013年8月13日 (火)

ケネディ大使 新たな日米関係を構築したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 13, 2013
Appointment of new ambassador chance to build new Japan-U.S. ties
ケネディ大使 新たな日米関係を構築したい(8月11日付・読売社説)

We welcome the nomination of the incoming U.S. ambassador as indicating the great importance that President Barack Obama’s administration places on its relations with Japan. This should be used as a step forward to build more mature Japan-U.S. relations.

Obama has named Caroline Kennedy, a lawyer and the eldest daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, as ambassador to Japan. Kennedy, 55, will be the first female U.S. ambassador to this nation. She will assume the post as early as this autumn, upon her Senate confirmation.

Kennedy comes from one of the most distinguished families in the United States. Early in 2008, before the presidential election later that year, she gave her support to Obama, helping create the momentum that led to Obama’s selection as the Democratic nominee for president. She also contributed to Obama’s reelection in 2012. Hers is a political nomination, a reward for her outstanding contributions to the Obama administration.

People with various careers and backgrounds have been apppointed as U.S. ambassadors in the past. These include heavyweight politicians such as Mike Mansfield, scholars like Edwin Reischauer and diplomats such as Michael Armacost.

In recent years, the appointments have been based on strong personal relations with presidents, as in the cases of John Scheiffer and John Roos. Kennedy’s nomination can be said to be in this line.

Kennedy has no experience with diplomacy or politics, leaving her abilities as an ambassador unknown. On the other hand, she has strong connections with Obama and a close relationship with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kennedy brings big guns

A big-name ambassador is expected to be able to get the president on the phone and explore ways to solve problems when bilateral Japan-U.S. relations reach a critical point. In this sense, Kennedy is equipped with an important “weapon.”

Yet another of Kennedy’s strong points is her oustanding name recognition and popularity. As an iconic figure for stable Japan-U.S. relations, she will be asked to boost both Japanese and Americans’ interest in each other.

Both Japan and the United States are facing various important challenges.

How should they face China, which is becoming an economic and military power, and how should they confront North Korea, which is pursuing nuclear and missile development programs? How should Japan and the United States proceed with the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, and with bilateral defense cooperation? How should they promote free trade in Asia through such frameworks as the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord negotiations?

To solve these thorny issues, it is vital to reinforce intergovernmental relations, including those on the summit level. We hope Kennedy will make a contribution in this area.

Recently, the number of Japanese students studying in the United States has been on the decline, falling to No. 7 among all the nations that send students to the states and raising concerns that bilateral exchange between the two countries will dwindle.

If Japan weakens its presence in the United States, while China and South Korea are making ever-greater efforts to transmit information and expand exchanges there, it would harm Japan’s national interests.

Expansion in grass-roots exchanges, including exchanges among the next generation of young people, will serve as the foundation for promoting mutual understanding and confidence-building efforts. We hope Kennedy, with her strong ability to communicate, will contribute in this field as well.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 11, 2013)
(2013年8月11日01時17分  読売新聞)


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