CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday advanced Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s nomination as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The full U.S. Senate still must vote to make the appointment final.

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In selecting Emanuel to serve as his chief envoy to Japan in August, President Joe Biden rewarded an informal adviser to his 2020 campaign and a significant force in Democratic Party politics for much of the last three decades with one of the highest-profile ambassadorial roles.

Emanuel would head to Japan at a moment when Biden wants to increase focus on the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, Emanuel said his work for presidents Clinton and Obama along with his tenure as mayor will help him be effective as ambassador.

He also noted that American interests are at a critical juncture in Asia.

Emanuel’s nomination has proved controversial, with some in the Democratic Party say the pick isn’t consistent with the president’s promise to make racial justice a priority. His hearing last month came on the seventh anniversary of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

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The teen was shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke, but the video of the incident wasn’t publicly released for more than a year.

The 2015 release of the video of McDonald’s fatal shooting caused widespread backlash that sparked protests and heightened racial tensions across the city. Emanuel was heavily criticized for waiting more than a year after the shooting to release the video in a move critics say was fueled by his motive to get re-elected to his second term as mayor.

Van Dyke is now serving a 6-year and 9-month sentence after a Cook County jury convicted him of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

On the eve of jury selection for Van Dyke’s trial, Emanuel announced he would not seek a third term as mayor of Chicago.

Protesters last month called on President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Emanuel because of the McDonald shooting.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBS 2 Chicago Staff