Kennedy, Saiki vow to strengthen U.S.-Japan alliance

Kyodo

New U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Monday met with Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki in Tokyo, where the two agreed to strengthen the bilateral alliance, the Foreign Ministry said.

During the roughly 25-minute meeting at Saiki’s office, Kennedy, 55, said it was an honor to come to Japan as U.S. ambassador, and that she hopes to visit a number of places to deepen her understanding of the country, according to the ministry.

The 61-year-old Saiki, Japan’s top career diplomat, briefed her on the issues being dealt with by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and said he hopes to strengthen the Japan-U.S. security alliance in various areas on the basis of trust between the two countries.

Kennedy agreed with him, the ministry said.

The ambassador left the ministry without speaking to the reporters thronging the lobby. The large media contingent at the ministry reflected the attention the daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy is commanding on both sides of the Pacific.

The attorney-turned-envoy is expected to present her credentials to Emperor Akihito during a ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday afternoon to begin her work in earnest.

Japan and the United States are arranging for her to meet with Abe, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and other leaders on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Monday, Kishida told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that he will work with Kennedy to further strengthen bilateral ties, noting her arrival has been “very much welcomed” in Japan, according to the ministry.

In a telephone conversation, Kerry, a former senator from Massachusetts, was quoted as saying that he believes Kennedy will make a good ambassador for both countries, adding that he has maintained a close relationship with her over the years.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which the United States has sought to resolve diplomatically, Kishida and Kerry agreed that their countries should continue cooperating closely on the matter, with the foreign minister informing his U.S. counterpart of his recent discussions with Iranian leaders during his trip to the Middle East country.

The two also discussed their countries’ coordinated disaster-relief response to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, as well as the Mideast peace process and Syria, the ministry said.