Japan Doesn't Want Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on September 20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for The Laver Cup)
With President Biden’s nomination Wednesday of former Chicago Mayor and Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel as U.S. ambassador to Japan, one could almost hear the collective cries of “Why?” and “Him?” from Tokyo last week.
Two sources with solid connections to the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told Newsmax that the choice of Emanuel, 61, was neither expected or wanted by the Japanese government.
“The former mayor of Chicago was definitely not wanted [by the Suga government] as ambassador,” a veteran Japanese journalist told Newsmax, “They would have preferred him being sent to Beijing.”
This opinion was strongly seconded by a source close to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who spoke to Newsmax under promise of anonymity.
“This is a confusing pick for the Japanese,” the source told us, “Rahm has numerous strengths, but diplomacy is not in his toolkit.”
Recalling Emmanuel’s passion for angry outbursts, foul language, and confrontation both in the Obama White House and at City Hall in Chicago, the source said “His reputation precedes him. The Japanese are gracious to a fault and understated. Rahm is neither. This has definitely caused some head-scratching in Tokyo.”
Historically, American presidents have named U.S. elder statesmen to the Japan ambassadorship. Walter Mondale, former vice president and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, was President Clinton’s ambassador to Japan. Former Sens. Mike Mansfield, D.-Mo. and Howard Baker, R.-Tenn., both of whom served as Senate Majority Leader, also held the Japan portfolio.
Clinton tapped the late House Speaker Tom Foley, D.-WA, as his ambassador to Japan shortly after his defeat for re-election in 1994.
Aware of this history, many Biden-watchers had expected him to turn to a fellow Democrat and elder statesman such as former Vice President and 2000 presidential nominee Al Gore.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.