Meeting between Japan’s prime minister, new U.S. ambassador planned for early February

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel

The government hopes that the arrival of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who is close to U.S. President Joe Biden, will further promote cooperation with the U.S. side.

There are plans to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida early next month, after Emanuel finishes his period of quarantine.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno welcomed the arrival of the new ambassador at a press conference on Monday, saying, “This will be a good opportunity to take a new step toward further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

Emanuel served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president, and he has earned Biden’s trust. He has already demonstrated his abilities, arranging the videoconference between Kishida and Biden on Friday, and he participated in that meeting as well.

Emanuel arrived in Japan on Sunday. After a 10-day quarantine period, he will present his credentials to the Emperor at the Imperial Palace and fully begin his activities as ambassador. During the meeting with the prime minister, Emanuel and Kishida are expected to discuss how to deal with North Korea, which has indicated that it will resume nuclear testing and test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Emanuel is known as a “tough guy” who is not afraid of friction with those around him. Some Foreign Ministry officials have said that more explanation than usual will be necessary in areas where Japan and the United States have different positions, such as trade.