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The U.S. embassy, a home away from home for Americans in Tokyo

Japan 2020

TOKYO (KSEE/KGPE) — For the 613 athletes sent to Tokyo to be part of Team USA there’s a home away from home; the U.S. embassy.

The United States embassy in Japan first opened in 1906 to assist U.S. citizens overseas, but that’s not all they do there.

“One of our other main functions is promoting U.S. interests overseas,” says Deputy Olympic Security Coordinator Joshua Berk. “On a day-to-day basis, those are the two main things that we do here.”

The head of an embassy is known as an ambassador and right now there is no U.S. ambassador to Japan. President Biden has nominated Rahm Emanuel for the position but he has yet to be sworn in.

“Right now we have our deputy chief of mission, we call it ‘DCM,’ is now the chargé d’affaires,” Berk explains. “And so, they are the number one person, they are running the embassy until an ambassador is appointed.”

A U.S. embassy is a headquarters for United States government representatives serving in a foreign country, but is it technically U.S. soil?

“I will defer to our legal department on that one,” says Berk. “I don’t want to answer that question and be wrong, so I would refer you to the state department lawyers on that.”

Still, the purpose of a U.S. embassy is to assist Americans in the host country. When that country happens to host the Olympic games, things get busy.

“There’s a huge influx of personnel into the embassy from various U.S. government agencies,” says Berk. “But, really, the embassy, daily operations go on unabated.”

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