To serve as the United States ambassador to Japan is obviously not an easy task — not by any stretch of the imagination. That's the position John Roos was assigned in August 2009 even though he didn't have previous diplomatic experience or hold a political office.

"I was very surprised when I got the call from the White House, telling me that President (Barack) Obama was interested in having me serve as ambassador. I was not looking to become an ambassador. I always had tremendous respect for the Foreign Service, but I was very happy with my career" as a lawyer, he said.

"It took me only a second to say that is something that I would love to do, because not only it is an honor and the privilege of my life to serve as the U.S. ambassador, but to serve as the ambassador to Japan is just very special, because of the relationship between our two countries. And the fact that the president would ask me to serve in this important position for such an important country was an offer I would never want to refuse."