TODAY   |  July 25, 2013

Caroline Kennedy nominated as Japan ambassador

The former first daughter who helped President Obama win the nomination in 2008, will be named the next ambassador to Japan, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, who was ambassador to Great Britain. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> president obama is making headlines this morning with the pick of caroline kennedy as the next u.s. ambassador to japan . andrea mitchell is nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent. andrea, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. caroline kennedy has no particular experience in japan , but she has something the japanese consider far more important in an ambassador, and that is a celebrated family name and a direct line to her very good friend in the oval office . caroline kennedy was almost born to be an ambassador, a picture perfect daughter in a telegenic first family. she captured our hearts all the way through her intense personal heartbreak. like her mother, very private, caroline remains a kennedy devoted to public service , as she told brian williams in 2011 .

>> there are so many things we all have to contribute, and there's so many things that need solving and doing.

>> reporter: in 2008 , she helped barack obama win the nomination over hillary clinton with a critically timed endorsement, comparing obama to her father.

>> there is one candidate who offers that same sense of hope and inspiration.

>> reporter: a new high profile led to a brief flirtation with running for the senate to replace clinton. elective office was not a natural fit for this kennedy , but diplomacy could be. her grandfather, joe kennedy sr., was ambassador to great britain before world war ii , her aunt jean was bill clinton 's ambassador to ireland . japan has always loved u.s. ambassadors with famous political names, and caroline 's father and brother are credited with helping japan become an economic power after the war. one challenge, japan has no tradition of women leaders, but caroline will have an impact.

>> she's a very respected figure, and her name is a respected one, so she's going to be taken very, very seriously.

>> reporter: and keeping her family's legacy alive.

>> i'm sure she's so mindful exactly of what disappointment means not only for the country, not only for the obama administration, but also for the kennedy legacy.

>> certainly has a high profile and celebrity. does she have any particular expertise with japan ? if not, what's she going to do to prepare? maybe japanese lessons.

>> reporter: all ambassador designates -- and 35 percent of them are career diplomats -- but the rest are these political appointees, and these political appointees all go to a special school at the state department for weeks and weeks to prepare for their confirmation hearing. so there is some lessons. i'm not sure there would be actually learning japanese, that's a very hard language to learn, but certainly there are a lot of languages that are easier to learn, and in this case, she probably will be taking lessons in japanese culture .

>> no question about that. andrea mitchell in washington, thank you