Japan, US to probe phoned-in death threats against US ambassador Caroline Kennedy

TOKYO (Bloomberg) - The United States State Department is working with the Japanese authorities after death threats against ambassador Caroline Kennedy were phoned into the US Embassy in Tokyo.

"We take any threats to US diplomats seriously," State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said in an e-mailed statement. "We take every step possible to protect our personnel. We are working with the Japanese government to ensure the necessary measures are in place."

US officials would not comment on the specific details of any threats or steps they are taking to address them.

Tokyo police are investigating calls made in February threatening to kill Ms Kennedy and similar ones targeting Mr Alfred Magleby, the US consul general based on the southern island of Okinawa, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The calls were made by someone with a male voice who was speaking English and are being investigated as a suspected case of blackmail, according to Kyodo News.

The threats come on the heels of the March 5 attack on US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, who required 80 stitches and was hospitalised for several days after being knifed by an anti-US activist.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment. The spokesman asked not to be named because there has been no official announcement by the department.

Ms Kennedy, 57, became ambassador to Japan in November 2013. She is the only surviving child of the late US President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

First Lady Michelle Obama arrives in Tokyo today on a trip to draw attention to the Let Girls Learn education initiative, according to the White House. She will visit Tokyo from March 18 to March 20, Kyoto on March 20, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, from March 20 to March 22.