Emanuel confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Japan

Reuters file photo
Rahm Emanuel

WASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — The U.S. Senate on Saturday confirmed by a majority vote the appointment of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as new ambassador to Japan.

Now that the approval process has been completed, Emanuel, 62, is set to head for Japan shortly, after taking the oath of office.

The post of the U.S. ambassador to Japan has been vacant for over two years since Emanuel’s immediate predecessor, William Hagerty, resigned to run for the Senate.

During a Senate confirmation hearing in October, Emanuel said that deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance is a top priority at a time when China is increasing its hegemonic moves.

He welcomed Japan’s policy of expanding its defense budget.

Aiming to attach importance to ensuring economic security, Emanuel expressed hope to enhance cooperation between Japan and the United States to review supply chains for semiconductors, medical products and other goods and promote infrastructure investment.

In the day’s voting at a plenary meeting of the Senate, the nomination of Emanuel was supported by 48 senators and opposed by 21.

Even some Democrats opposed the appointment apparently as Emanuel has been criticized for failing to promptly release video footage of the fatal shooting by a white police officer of a black teenager when he was serving as Chicago mayor.

The approval of the U.S. ambassador’s appointment was stalled due to opposition from some Republicans and deliberations on other bills.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who focuses his country’s diplomacy on the Indo-Pacific region, had requested that the ambassador to Japan, the United States’ largest ally in Asia, be approved on a priority basis.

On Thursday, the Senate approved the appointment of former U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China.