As the daughter of a president and a member of what was once America's most prominent political family, Caroline Kennedy had to be diplomatic all her life. So when she learned she would become U.S. ambassador to Japan, in a way, she would be continuing something she had been doing all her life she tells Norah O'Donnell. O'Donnell goes to Japan to report on Ambassador Kennedy, the issues she is dealing with in the job and the legacy she continues to carry for a story to be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Critics said she had no experience when President Obama nominated Kennedy to be the first female U.S. ambassador to Japan. But, in a way, she had. "I feel that I've been representing my family legacy all my life. And so in that way it's, it's an extension of some of that work. But this is obviously much more important," Kennedy says of her ambassadorship.
Kennedy and her late uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, helped elect Obama in his first campaign by endorsing him early over Hillary Clinton. Does she have the president's ear asks O'Donnell? "Well, I mean, yes. It depends on what you mean by special relationship," she says with a laugh. "But I feel that if I need to talk to him, I can."
The ambassador sees East Asia as a crucial part of the world right now that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Besides economic opportunities as Japan tries to emerge from a two-decade recession, the country is not on very good terms with China. Kennedy reminds people something many do not know. "We are responsible for the defense of Japan. And we have a security treaty," she tells O'Donnell.
What's more, the country the U.S. defeated so utterly in WWII is now considering beefing up its limited military capacity and is now one of America's closest allies. "What's being debated here now is the ability of Japan to come to the aid, for example, of us, if we are being threatened," says Kennedy.