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.

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