Silicon Valley lawyer and Obama fundraiser John Roos has reportedly been tapped as the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. The news comes as a surprise, following widespread speculation that Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor and Japan expert, would be chosen for the post. But, as the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper puts it, Roos seems to have edged Nye out for the job due to his "closeness" with Obama.

In the past, the key diplomatic post has been filled by a former Chief of Staff, a former Vice President and candidates with similarly weighty experience. Has Obama opted for a crony instead? Click through today's TNR slideshow to view the qualifications of previous Ambassadors to Japan, and decide for yourself.

--Alexander Wolf