Caroline Kennedy was sworn in as the new U.S. ambassador to Japan by Secretary of State John Kerry in a private ceremony on Tuesday, November 12.
The event was closed to the media, but the State Department released a couple photographs. One shows Kennedy with her right hand raised and her left resting on what appears to be a Bible held by her husband Edwin Schlossberg. In another photo Kennedy stands in between Kerry and Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae.
Her swearing in occurred ten days before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of her father John F. Kennedy, which she commented on. She said, “This appointment has special significance as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of my father’s presidency. I am conscious of my responsibility to uphold the ideals that he represented.”
Sasae hosted a reception for Kennedy at his Washington residence on Tuesday evening. The reception included a traditional tea ceremony. Political Ticker reported that Kennedy said during the reception, “As the United States rebalances towards Asia, Japan remains our most important ally.”
Kerry, who first met Kennedy when she was four when he was working with her uncle Ted Kennedy, also attended the reception. He said that she will be a “new superb ambassador” and he remarked, “Japan, Mr. Ambassador, knows that it is getting an envoy who has the ear of the President, the respect of the President and the affection of the President.”
Kennedy is a lawyer and has published ten books, although she has no expertise in Japan. She first visited the country in 1978 with her uncle Ted Kennedy. She has little diplomatic or government experience, but she was the director of several nonprofits and she was the national co-chairwoman of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign.
She is the first female ambassador to Japan. The New York Times reported that Sasae said, “The arrival of the first woman ambassador is absolutely great for my country.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently called for an increase in the professional and economic role of women.
Kennedy, who arrived in Tokyo with her family on Friday, said before embarking on her mission, “My husband and I and my children are so excited to be going to Japan.