Ambassador Kennedy bids farewell to Japan, thanks Abe for supporting ties with US

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 3:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 3:35pm

Outgoing US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy expressed her gratitude to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his contribution to strengthening the US-Japan alliance in her farewell message released on Monday.

“I want to thank Prime Minister Abe and the members of his government for working to strengthen our ‘alliance of hope’ and for sharing President [Barack’ Obama’s belief in the ‘power of reconciliation’,” said Kennedy, who is set to leave Japan on Wednesday, in a video message released by the US Embassy in Tokyo.

Kennedy cited Abe’s visit last December to Pearl Harbour, which was attacked by Japan in 1941, and for arranging Obama’s historic visit last May to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945.

“Most of all I want to thank him, and Foreign Minister Kishida, for welcoming President Obama to Hiroshima and for visiting Pearl Harbour last month,” she said.

Touching upon Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of US forces in Japan, Kennedy said she is “grateful” to the people of Okinawa for helping her better understand their struggle.

Pointing to the return of thousands of hectares of land from the US military, she said, “I am proud that our governments were able to conclude the largest land return in 30 years.”

The ambassador also thanked people who helped her to find Tsuyako Matsumoto, a woman who had sent dolls in 1962 to her father, US president at the time John F. Kennedy, saying it was the dolls that “sparked my love of Japan”.

Praising young Japanese people’s participation in the revitalization of Tohoku, an area devastated by the 2011 quake and tsunami, Kennedy invited Japanese students to her country, saying, “The future of our alliance depends on you.”

She closed her message by saying, “I hope to come back and visit.”