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An interview with Ambassador Kennedy: Hope for momentum toward “nuclear-free world”

By Takuya Arai and Risa Suzuki


In an interview with Kyodo News on August 4, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy strongly hoped that with President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May, many more people will be able to visit A-bombed cities including Nagasaki and take away a renewed commitment to work for a world without nuclear weapons. The ambassador pointed out that by visiting Hiroshima, the president “re-articulated his commitment to pursuing a world without nuclear weapons and sent a very powerful message,” emphasizing the visit was an important moment for Japan-U.S. alliance.


With regard to the Obama administration’s reviewing the nuclear policy, including the so-called “no first use” policy, the ambassador, while offering assurance that the president’s visit will have an impact on policy-making in the U.S., indicated that there are many steps required to achieve that goal in light of the current global security environment, including the threats posed by North Korea.


While Ambassador Kennedy stated that the decision [to visit Hiroshima] was really President’s Obama’s decision in the White House and that she was “just helping to make his decision come true,” she pointed out that President Obama has certainly carried forward the “political legacy of disarmament and non-proliferation” bequeathed by her father President John F. Kennedy, who promoted the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The ambassador went on to say that to be able to be present at the President’s visit “was really a wonderful moment that I will always treasure,” and that she was proud of bridging the legacy of President Kennedy to President Obama.


Ambassador Kennedy stated that the U.S.-Japan alliance is “stronger than it has ever been,” and that the bilateral economic relationship will continue to strengthen under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).


As for the homicide case in which a U.S. base contractor was indicted for killing a local woman in Okinawa Prefecture, the ambassador said, “On behalf of the American people, I want to express again our deepest apologies for this terrible tragedy,” emphasizing that the U.S. government is committed to taking the strongest possible measures to prevent future incidents of all kinds and to enforce stricter discipline among U.S. military personnel in Japan.


Regarding promoting women’s empowerment in society, for which the ambassador herself has exerted efforts, she pointed out that the Japanese business community “needs to make this an even higher priority.” Concerning a question on whether who should decide surnames for married couples, the state or the individual, the ambassador implied that the individual, not the state, should decide.

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