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The U.S. Senate’s confirmation of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as U.S. ambassador to Japan may be delayed due to a confrontational stance among the opposition in Washington over turmoil in Afghanistan.

It has become the custom in recent years for U.S. ambassadors to take up their positions in the summer or autumn of the president’ first year in office.

But deliberations on Emanuel’s appointment are likely to stall as the Republican Party is stepping up attacks against President Joe Biden over his handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The position of U.S. ambassador to Japan has been empty since Bill Hagerty resigned in July 2019 to run for a Senate seat.

Emanuel served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff and is close to Biden, who was vice president at the time.

Political appointments of ambassadors require confirmation by the Senate. Biden announced his nomination of Emanuel as ambassador to Japan, and the plan was sent to the Senate on Sept. 13.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley said the following day that he would not agree to any appointments related to the departments of state and defense unless Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top officials resign over the confusion from the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Senator Ted Cruz, also a Republican, has suggested that he may block such appointments as well.

Although the Democratic Party controls the Senate, Republicans can try to delay deliberations. According to local media, delays to appointments for similar important positions, such as the post of ambassador to China, are also anticipated.

Emanuel’s arrival in Japan may be after the turn of the year, a diplomatic source said.

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