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When U.S. President Joe Biden held a video summit with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in January, the American president joked that his counterpart should be careful with the incoming U.S. ambassador.

Rahm Emanuel — the former Chicago mayor and long-time Democratic Party insider with a reputation for butting heads — seemed like an odd fit for a diplomatic post in a conservative country where change is often glacial. In the meeting with Kishida, Biden reassured the Japanese leader that Emanuel had his complete trust, according to an official with knowledge of the talks.

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