Washington – President Joe Biden is poised to nominate former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as the US ambassador to Japan, according to a person familiar with the US president’s decision.
The person said the White House plans to announce Emanuel’s nomination later this month. The source was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and revealed it on Tuesday on condition of concealing his identity.
Emanuel was also a three-term congressman, served as the first White House chief of staff during the Barack Obama administration, and was an important adviser during the Bill Clinton administration. Biden had considered appointing Emanuel to serve as his transportation secretary, but ultimately turned him down in the face of fierce opposition from some Democrats and left-wing activists.
The White House declined to comment at this time, emphasizing that no nomination is final until it is formally announced.
If Emanuel’s selection as the top envoy to Japan is confirmed, Biden would reward an informal adviser to his campaign and a significant force in Democratic Party politics for much of the past three decades. It is one of the highest profile embassies in US diplomacy.
If ratified by the Senate, Emanuel could be in Tokyo before the Summer Olympics. He will also head to Japan at a time when Biden wants to focus more on the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the relationship between the United States and Japan.
Emanuel’s election could upset some of the more left-wing members of the Democratic Party. In particular, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a representative for New York, criticized the way she handled the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, at the hands of a white police officer during Emanuel’s time as mayor of Chicago.