Biden picks ex-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as US ambassador to Japan

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<span>Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP</span>
Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP

Joe Biden has picked the former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to be his ambassador to Japan.

The selection ends months of speculation over whether Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, a former congressman and longtime Democratic operative, would be nominated to an administration role.

In the first days of the Biden presidency Emanuel, 61, was mentioned as a possible secretary of transportation. Biden ended up picking Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who ran strongly in the Democratic presidential primary.

Some progressives view Emanuel as a major antagonist within the party. He is often criticized among liberals, for example, for his handling of a shooting of an African American teenager during his time in Chicago.

Emanuel served two terms as mayor but opted not to run a third time, in the face of a potentially brutal campaign.

His selection as ambassador was first reported by the Financial Times. The Guardian confirmed it on Tuesday.

The selection, which will be officially announced later this month, is one of a number of appointments Biden plans to make in full ambassadorial roles. There has been grumbling among Democratic donors that the president has not followed in a longstanding tradition of appointing major donors to plush diplomatic posts.

Biden has reportedly eyed major American political figures for diplomatic jobs. In April, for example, Axios reported that he plans to pick Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Republican senator and presidential nominee John McCain, to be ambassador to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Biden reportedly plans to nominate Ken Salazar, a former cabinet secretary and senator from Colorado, as ambassador to Mexico.

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