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WASHINGTON (Kyodo) President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has picked California-based lawyer and major fundraiser John Roos as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Obama revealed the pick in a letter to Congress notifying it of his intention to nominate 12 ambassadors, including the envoys to Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France and India.

“I am grateful that these distinguished Americans have agreed to help represent the United States and strengthen our partnerships abroad at this critical time for our nation and the world,” he said in a statement. “I am confident they will advance American diplomacy as we work to meet the challenges in the 21st century.”

If approved by the Senate, the 54-year-old Roos, one of Obama’s top fundraisers during his presidential campaign, will serve as point man for U.S. policy on Japan.

The post of ambassador to Japan was initially to be awarded to Joseph Nye, a Harvard University professor emeritus and former assistant secretary of defense.

But Roos has strong personal ties with Obama, similar to those between George W. Bush and his envoy to Japan, Thomas Schieffer.

Roos is almost unknown among U.S. and Japanese officials and experts. Because he has no diplomatic and security experience, some doubt has been raised about his qualifications at a time when North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are mounting.

Another major task for him will be to oversee the planned transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

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