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Confirmation hearing for Kennedy opens next week

Kyodo

Caroline Kennedy, nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to be America’s next ambassador to Japan, will take questions next week during a confirmation hearing on her appointment, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.

The hearing Thursday will be Kennedy’s first chance since her nomination to comprehensively express her views on U.S.-Japanese relations.

Afterward, a Senate vote will officially appoint Kennedy as ambassador. If she is swiftly approved, she could start work as early as October.

The attorney and daughter of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy would be the first woman appointed to the post. Although she is close to Obama and campaigned for him in 2008 and for his re-election in 2012, she has no practical experience in diplomacy.

Kennedy is expected to be asked about the overall situation in Northeast Asia at the hearing, including issues involving the U.S.-Japan alliance, such as the ongoing attempt to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, the row between Japan and China over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and military issues involving North Korea.

According to sources familiar with U.S.-Japanese relations, she has prepared by intensively studying U.S.-Japan relations and Northeast Asian affairs at the State Department.

The term of the previous ambassador, John Roos, ended on Aug. 12.