President Obama has nominated former first daughter Caroline Kennedy to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.
Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is the most famous living member of the prominent American political family.
The White House announced the nomination Wednesday afternoon.
If Kennedy is confirmed, she would bring a third generation of her family into the U.S. diplomatic corps. Her grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ambassador to Britain, while her aunt, Jean Kennedy Smith, was ambassador to Ireland under President Clinton.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that the nomination reflected the importance the U.S. government attaches to Japan. Suga particularly praised Kennedy's close ties with Obama.
Kennedy was five days shy of her sixth birthday when her father was killed on Nov. 22, 1963. A mother of three, she has lived most of her life in New York City.
Kennedy, an attorney and author, is being rewarded for helping put Obama in the White House where her father served until his assassination. If confirmed, she would be the first woman in a post where many other prominent Americans have served to strengthen a vital Asian tie.
Kennedy helped propel Obama to the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in a celebrated endorsement over Hillary Rodham Clinton -- the only time she's endorsed a presidential candidate other than her uncle Ted Kennedy in 1980. She played a prominent election role, particularly in courting female voters by headlining swing state events for Obama in both his presidential campaigns.
She was a co-chair of Obama's vice presidential search committee and in the 2012 race served as one of 35 national co-chairs of his re-election campaign. She called Obama "the kind of leader my father wrote about in `Profiles in Courage"' during a prime-time speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Japan is one of the United States' most important trading and military partners and accustomed since the end of World War II to having renowned American political leaders serve as envoys.
Former U.S. ambassadors to Japan include former Vice President Walter Mondale, former House Speaker Tom Foley and former Senate Majority Leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker.
Kennedy doesn't have any obvious ties to Japan, a key ally in dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions. She would replace John Roos, a wealthy former Silicon Valley lawyer and top Obama campaign fundraiser.
She considered running for political office after Clinton resigned the New York Senate seat to serve as Obama's secretary of state. But Kennedy eventually withdrew herself from consideration to fill the seat, once held by her uncle Robert F. Kennedy, citing unspecified personal reasons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.