New Ambassador Caroline Kennedy meets Emperor

AP

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy traveled by horse-drawn carriage to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials to Emperor Akihito on Tuesday, giving the public a rare look at a diplomatic tradition.

Hundreds of onlookers lined the avenues near the moat-ringed palace to snap pictures and wave as Kennedy, the 55-year-old daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, waved back from inside the carriage.

In an unusual move, NHK showed Kennedy’s arrival at the Imperial Palace live, following the entourage from the air once it entered the palace gates.

It is customary for a newly arrived ambassador to meet with the Emperor to present credentials, and Kennedy was one of several diplomats who did Tuesday. Others also opted for a carriage, but it wasn’t clear how many.

“Honored to present my credentials to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. What a memorable day!” Kennedy tweeted later, sharing a photo of her alighting from the carriage at the palace’s Pine Hall.

The procession was accompanied by palace officials in European-style ceremonial costumes, including a footman in breeches. Her carriage, the spokes of its coppery wheels gleaming in the late afternoon sunshine, was led by a horseman astride a white horse.

Kennedy was appointed ambassador after helping President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

She is the first woman to be U.S. ambassador to Japan, the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner and home to the Navy’s 7th Fleet and 50,000 American troops.

She is due to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this week and to visit the Yokota airbase, an American military facility west of Tokyo. Friday is the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination.