Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meet John V. Roos, U.S. Ambassador-to-Be in Tokyo

My negative powers of prediction have worked their magic again; I have hexed Joseph Nye, and John V. Roos, a Silicon Valley lawyer and major Obama fundraiser, has been tapped as Ambassador to Japan. According to the Asahi, the decision was precipitated by Jon Huntsman’s nomination as Ambassador to China (the balance!), the switch from Nye coming at the last minute.

The Asahi says that the Obama administration is tracing the “Schieffer” pattern in prioritizing the personal relationship over experience. Not so. That was certainly the case with Schieffer, a native Texan like Bush, though a Democrat from Texas. But Roos was an early supporter of and fundraiser for Obama; I’m sure the two hit it off, but the decision itself is very much political. In that sense, it’s actually the “close ally” treatment that places like London, Paris and (likely) Rome are used to getting, where major donors/fundraisers are routinely awarded extended vacations. Again, we are reminded of the difference between partnership and relationship.

Not that there’s any reason to believe that Roos will be less effective. In fact, I think he’ll be a great hit here.


Chris Jacobson said...

I agree with your conclusion. He should do fine. As an attorney accustomed to working with teams in his M&A and financial transactions practice, I am sure that John Roos will tap into the depth of bi-lingual and bi-cultural experience available to avoid any gaffes.

Chris Jacobson

Aceface said...

We just take what we can get,I guess.
But then,we also learned Obama White House isn't really concerend about what their decisions will be perceived here in Tokyo.

Jun Okumura said...

Chris: He’ll certainly be an improvement on the flinty, no-nonsense Schieffer. I think he was temperamentally more suited his previous portfolio in Texas-without-the-death-penalty Australia.

Aceface: I think it was more a matter of being oblivious to this instance than unconcerned about the relationship in general (assuming that’s your point). There a difference. The former, I believe, holds out more hope of learning from any mistakes. Incidentally, I received some interesting comments from a government source on Japanese perception. I’ll try to remember to work it into something more substantial on what looks like a broader issue regarding perceptions and actions across the Pacific.