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U.S. Senate confirms Kennedy as ambassador to Japan

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, testifies at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her
Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, testifies at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate confirmed Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, on Wednesday as President Barack Obama's next U.S. ambassador to Japan, the first woman to fill the post.

Kennedy was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 30, but final approval of her nomination was held up by wrangling in Congress over how to end a funding battle that partly shut down the government and threatened to force Washington to default on its debts.

The unanimous voice vote in the Senate late on Wednesday came shortly after the Senate approved legislation ending the crisis.

Kennedy, a lawyer and president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, sailed through a friendly confirmation hearing last month. Members of the Foreign Relations Committee spoke fondly of her father and uncles, who served in the Senate.

Kennedy's appointment lends the prestige of a storied political dynasty to the U.S. relationship with Japan, a particularly close and important ally. Many past ambassadors have been well-known political figures, including former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Kennedy, 55, was an early and prominent supporter of Obama in his initial quest for the presidency in 2008.

She noted during her confirmation hearing on September 19 that her father had hoped to be the first sitting U.S. president to make a state visit to Japan.

John F. Kennedy, a World War Two veteran who had fought against Japan in the Pacific, was felled by an assassin's bullet when she was a young girl, as was her uncle Robert, a U.S. senator and former attorney general.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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