US Ambassodor to Japan Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late US president John F. Kennedy, says she was initiated into the intricacy of Japan’s arts and culture long before becoming US ambassador in Tokyo.
“Growing up, Japan seemed to be a faraway place,” the 55-year-old lawyer, who was educated at Harvard and Columbia, said in an interview with the mass-circulation Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun published yesterday.
“But during my five years working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I loved to walk through the Japanese galleries, and I became more familiar with Japanese arts and culture,” she added, according to the daily’s English edition.
“I have long admired Japanese civilization and I know that America has no more important ally than Japan,” she said. “America has no truer friend than Japan, and there is no more important place I could serve my country than in Japan.”
Kennedy’s arrival in Tokyo, which came a week before the 50th anniversary on Friday of her father’s assassination in Dallas, has been hailed in Japan.
However, some critics have voiced concern at having a diplomatic novice in the important post at a time of high tensions between Japan and a rising China.
Kennedy, the only surviving child of the president, and her husband, exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg, spent their 1986 honeymoon in Kyoto and Nara.
She told the Yomiuri she had always wanted to return to Japan, adding she was especially honored to be the envoy at a crucial time for the US-Japan alliance.
Kennedy, the first female US ambassador to Japan, studied Japanese art at college, the daily said.
She was quoted by Yomiuri as saying she was interested in learning more about Japanese poetic traditions.
“I am eager to play Hyakunin Isshu,” she said, apparently referring to a Japanese card game based on a collection of 100 ancient poems and often played during a New Year holiday break.