Kennedy's grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, was chosen by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 to serve in Britain as ambassador to the Court of St. James's. In 1993, her aunt, Jean Kennedy Smith, was picked as the envoy to Ireland by President Clinton.
Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Washington and met with Obama a week ago in hopes of forming a stronger bond, especially in trade and defense, between the two allies.
The U.S. and Japan are still in discussions about Tokyo getting a seat at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a cautiously worded statement after their meeting last week, the White House indicated it may be willing to let the economic struggling nation into the talks without first reaching an agreement to eliminate tariffs in sensitive sectors of their economy.
Business groups, particularly automakers, along with some lawmakers, oppose Japan's entry into the talks at this late stage. But automakers argue that Japan's economy is too closed off to join the discussions with 11 other nations, including the United States.
Kennedy would replace Ambassador John Roos, a former Silicon Valley-based lawyer who led Obama's California financing operation in 2008.