April 3, 2013
MARA LIASSON: It's a longstanding tradition for presidents to appoint high-profile political figures to represent the U.S. in Japan. Former Vice President Walter Mondale served in the post. So did former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, and former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. Caroline Kennedy is the best-known living member of America's most famous political family, but she isn't the kind of power player those other ambassadors were; and she has no prior experience in government or business. In that sense, her appointment would be a break with tradition, says Clyde Prestowitz, a Japan expert and president of the Economic Strategy Institute.
CLYDE PRESTOWITZ: You know, when we say that the Japanese like celebrities, there are different kinds of celebrities. And the people that we've sent to Japan, over the years, have been people like Mondale or Tom Foley or Mike Mansfield. And these are celebrities. But they're heavyweight policy people who are knowledgeable about issues and knowledgeable about Japan, and had a broad web of acquaintanceships. You know, in the case of somebody like Ms. Kennedy, she just doesn't have that kind of a background.
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