Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor, tapped as Japan ambassador by President Biden

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WASHINGTON (WLS) — President Joe Biden has nominated former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Emanuel is a former three-term congressman who served as Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff and was a senior adviser in Bill Clinton’s administration. Biden had considered naming Emanuel to serve as his transportation secretary but ultimately passed him over in the face of fierce opposition from some in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and liberal activists. He has also been a contributor to ABC News since 2019.

Please note: The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

“For nearly 30 years I have worked with President Biden on behalf of the American people, and I am honored that he has nominated me to serve as Ambassador to Japan. The alliance between the United States and Japan is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and I would proudly represent our nation with one of our most critical global allies in one of the most critical geopolitical regions,” Emanuel said in a statement on his nomination.

In selecting Emanuel to serve as his chief envoy to Japan, Biden will reward an informal adviser to his campaign and a significant force in Democratic Party politics for much of the last three decades with one of the highest-profile ambassadorial roles.

“Our Ambassadors to Japan have a long history of distinguished public service from both parties and I am humbled to follow so many statesmen who have served in this role. I look forward to discussing my nomination with the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, if confirmed, to serving the United States of America,” Emanuel added.

RELATED: Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tests negative for COVID-19 after Chris Christie tests positive; pair gave presidential debate commentary together

Emanuel’s nomination could rankle some in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, in particular, has criticized his handling of the high-profile shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager, by a white police officer during Emanuel’s time as Chicago’s mayor.

In April, Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House, the first in-person foreign leader visit of his presidency.

The administration has made strengthening relations with partners in the region a priority as Biden increases focus on China. Biden has repeatedly cited China as the greatest economic competitor to the U.S. and admonished Beijing for human rights violations and unfair trade practices.

Nicholas Burns, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former Ambassador to Greece and NATO, will be Biden’s nominee for Ambassador to China, and after months of rumors and speculation.

In a news conference during his White House visit, Suga made repeated references to the “severe security environment” in East Asia, where China under Xi Jinping is exerting its economic and military strength, including with military deployments meant to assert its disputed territorial claims in the region.

Biden for his part has stressed U.S. commitments to Japan’s defense and said the alliance would “prove that democracies can still commit and win” and “deliver for our people.”

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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August 20, 2021 at 03:28PM

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