Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Who’s Roos?


Roos who?

That was pretty much the reaction in Japan when U.S. President Barack Obama tapped California lawyer and campaign donor John Roos as ambassador to Tokyo.

News of the choice sent Japanese diplomats and U.S.-Japan watchers scrambling for information about Roos, whom one U.S. expert described to me in a hurried email as a “Silicon valley mover and shaker, not with any link to Japan, though clearly to Obama”.

The pick risked sending a sign that a wary Tokyo would interpret as more evidence of “Japan passing”, a phenomenon much feared in Japan, in which Washington is seen cosying up to Beijing at the expense of its closest Asian ally.

Many Japanese media had expected Obama to select Harvard professor Joseph Nye, a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense well known in Japan for his work on the alliance, though reports that his nomination was a done deal had been dodgy for a while.