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Amb. Kennedy dedicated to promotion of Japan-U.S. reconciliation

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy came to have a strong commitment to peace as a result of her visit to atomic-bombed Hiroshima at the age of 20 in 1978. She was “deeply moved” by her visit to the Peace Memorial Park and other sites with her uncle, the late Senator Edward Kennedy. Thirty-eight years later, she accompanied President Barack Obama on the first-ever visit by an incumbent U.S. president to Hiroshima.


A source familiar with U.S.-Japanese diplomatic relations pointed out that “Ambassador Kennedy played a significant role in President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.” The Ambassador did not elaborate on her role in the visit, merely saying: “President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima will probably be my most memorable experience.”


Kennedy indicated that she will accompany President Obama during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, later this month. She emphasized that President Obama’s Hiroshima visit and Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor are “historic moments made possible by decades of friendship, cooperation, and trust which have made the Japan-U.S. alliance the strongest in the world.”


There had been criticism that the appointment of Kennedy, who had no diplomatic experience, as ambassador to Japan was simply a “reward” for her service [to President Obama]. However, since assuming her post, the Ambassador has undoubtedly contributed to strengthening Japan-U.S. friendship through her visits to atomic-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to Okinawa in turmoil over U.S. base issues, as well as her frequent trips to the areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.


The Ambassador has particularly strong feelings for Okinawa, which she visited seven times after taking up post. She actively engaged in exchanges with the Okinawan people who are enduring an excessive base-hosting burden. Two tapestries given to her by students of the Shuri High School Dyeing, Weaving, and Design Department during a cultural exchange visit are displayed on the wall of her residence. Amid rising anti-U.S. sentiments as a result of the Osprey accident and other incidents, Kennedy said that she is “truly grateful for the Okinawan people’s friendship and cooperation.”


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