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Caroline Kennedy’s e-mail use examined

Senior staff at the US Embassy in Japan, including Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, have used personal e-mail accounts for official business. Kimimasa Mayama/AP Photo

WASHINGTON — Senior staff at the US Embassy in Japan, including Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, have used personal e-mail accounts for official business, an internal watchdog said in a report Tuesday. Some e-mails contained sensitive information.

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General said that it identified instances where e-mails labeled ‘‘sensitive but unclassified’’ were sent from or received by personal e-mail accounts. Department policy is that employees generally should not use such accounts for official business.

‘‘Employees are also expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit sensitive but unclassified information when available and practical,’’ the report said.

The finding comes in the midst of a department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails that were sent and received from a private e-mail account while she was secretary of state. Clinton also used her own e-mail server.

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The inspection of the embassy’s operations was conducted between January and March. Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, has been ambassador in Tokyo since November 2013.

The report did not appear to suggest a serious information breach. Sensitive but unclassified information can be shared outside of the government, though officials are required to use discretion.

In May, Secretary of State John Kerry asked the inspector general to review several issues related to personal e-mail use across the department. These included possible new guidelines for retaining government information, better compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests, more transparency, and updating the agency’s technology. The review is ongoing.

A State Department official, who was not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity, said that Kennedy uses an official e-mail address for official business. The official said the report reflected that Kennedy infrequently used her personal e-mail account for official business, as was done in the past and by others at the mission.

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