TOKYO — The U.S. presidential delegation to Japan to attend the ceremony of the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito on Oct. 22 was led by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The only other member of the delegation listed in a White House announcement on Oct. 4 was Joseph M. Young, chargé d’affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Born in Taipei, Chao was President George W. Bush’s secretary of labor from 2001 to 2009, becoming the first Asian American woman and the first Chinese American to serve in the Cabinet. She assumed her current post in January 2017. She is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
According to Kyodo News, the U.S. government had initially made arrangements to send Vice President Mike Pence, but apparently gave up the idea in consideration of other diplomatic schedules.
President Donald Trump has already visited Japan twice this year and it was seen as highly unlikely that he would make another visit this month. In May, Trump became the first foreign leader to meet with Emperor Naruhito, who ascended the throne earlier that month.
Representatives from nearly 200 countries attended the ceremony, including Britain’s Prince Charles, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
For the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Akihito in 1990, the U.S. sent Vice President Dan Quayle.