The Sunday editions of all national papers highlighted the White House announcement on Friday that President Biden will nominate former Chief of Staff for President Obama Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan. The papers speculated that the President tapped the tough politician to strengthen the bilateral alliance amid rising tensions with China. The White House reportedly described Emanuel as having had a “distinguished career in public service.” The presumptive nominee said in a statement: “The alliance between the United States and Japan is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and I would proudly represent our nation with one of our most critical global allies.”
Several outlets predicted that Emanuel may run into difficulties during the Senate confirmation process because he has a number of political enemies not only among Republicans but also within his own Democratic Party on account of his “combative” and “pro-business” nature. They also pointed out that his handling of the police shooting of an African American teenager when he was the mayor of Chicago drew considerable criticism. Asahi and Yomiuri noted that the nomination was delayed for months on account of opposition from the progressive wing of the Democrat Party, with Yomiuri claiming that Emanuel had been hoping to arrive in Japan in time for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. According to a USG source cited by Asahi, calls grew in early summer among Democratic lawmakers led by Senator Mazie Hirono for the President to nominate an Asian American for ambassador to Japan in response to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.