Thousands lined Tokyo streets Tuesday to welcome Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador, shouting “Kennedy-san!” as she arrived in a horse-drawn carriage to meet with Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
In what Agence France-Presse termed a “rare public display of affection for a foreign dignitary,”
the crowds cheered for the elaborate procession. Kennedy met only briefly with Akihito to give him a letter from President Barack Obama, a formality that confirmed her position as the country’s new ambassador.
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Japan holds high expectations for Kennedy, 55, hoping the well-connected child of John F. Kennedy can work with Obama to address some issues, The Associated Press said
“What’s important here is her strong pipeline with Obama and an ability to be able to pick up the phone and speak with Obama directly in the middle of the night for consultation on urgent matters," Ryuichi Teshima, professor of diplomacy in Tokyo, told the AP.
Onlookers appreciated Kennedy’s connection to her famous father, but also to her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy.
"I'm very excited to have seen her because I was a big fan of her mother Jacqueline-san," Shizuko Harada, 68, told AFP.
Kennedy is the first female ambassador to the country. She said in a speech when she arrived Friday, AFP reported, that “Our alliance is critical to a prosperous and peaceful world.”
Kennedy is considered a diplomatic novice, AFP said, and there’s some concern about her appointment because of the tense relationship between Japan and China.
Kennedy picked her inauguration into the Japanese culture to forge ahead into another world — she recently opened a Twitter account
. Her bio there, presented also in Japanese, is short: “U.S. Ambassador to Japan, wife, mother, author, lawyer, long-distance swimmer, candy lover, @RedSox fan.
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