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Editorial: Japan should partner with new U.S. Ambassador to deepen alliance

It has been decided that Rahm Emanuel will be the new U.S. Ambassador to Japan. We would like to see the Kishida administration ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific region by partnering with the new Ambassador to deepen the alliance.  


Emanuel was a policy advisor to the Clinton administration and a member of the House of Representatives before he served as the White House Chief of Staff in the Obama administration. He is also close to President Joe Biden and has many connections with the current administration’s cabinet members and other officials. This is the most important quality for a U.S. ambassador, who serves as a bridge to the United States. Emanuel’s skills as a diplomat are still untested, but we expect he will be adept at coordinating views.  


In his [2020] memoir, former President Barack Obama described Emanuel as “hugely ambitious,” “manically driven,” and a dynamo who rushes headlong toward achieving his goal.  


From this description, one can anticipate that the new Ambassador will make many requests of Japan, but this profile also indicates that he will be a reliable person who is passionate about his work. Japan should eliminate any preconceptions it might have and build a strong relationship with him.  


The first thing the new Ambassador will focus on is the deepening of the Japan-U.S. alliance, with China and North Korea in mind. “My top priority will be to deepen these ties [with Japan] while we confront our common challenges,” he said at his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressing his hope that Japan will strengthen its defense capabilities.  


Needless to say, Japan’s national defense is its own problem and Japan should judge the situation for itself. At the same time, the division of roles between Japan and the United States is important for regional stability. There is an increasing need for Japan and the United States to iron out the differences in their views, including those regarding how to deal with China. Coordination should be accelerated through the new Ambassador.  


In 1995, a [Japanese] girl was raped by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa Prefecture, and this rattled the alliance. Then U.S. Ambassador Walter Mondale’s efforts to calm the situation led to the agreement to return the Futenma base.  


Incidents and accidents involving the U.S. forces in Japan continue to happen, causing residents anxiety. It is important for the new Ambassador to have a full understanding of the actual situation in Okinawa, where the U.S. military bases are concentrated.  


An ambassador also plays an important role in deepening mutual understanding among the two nations’ people. Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was realized because of the efforts of then Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. We would like to see the appointment of the new Ambassador leveraged as an opportunity to further strengthen the bonds between Japan and the United States.  

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