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Thursday, 19th March 2015
In Business In Japan,

Michelle Obama discuss girls' educational reforms in Tokyo

US First Lady Michelle Obama has arrived in Tokyo, visiting Japan for the first time, as part of a two-nation tour in Asia to promote girls' education on a global scale.

Today (March 19th), Mrs Obama met with her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe to announce further plans on how the two countries could work together to help girls finish their education in still developing nations. Japan will be working with the Let Girls Learn initiative, which was recently launched by the Obamas, and the country will be offering 42 billion yen over three years for the cause.

Japan and the US also agree that more assistance on supporting female education would have to be developed, so the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers will be working with the Peace Corps, the latter of which will be implementing the Let Girls Learn scheme. In all, the initiative will be helping girls attain goals that are often taken for granted in wealthy countries.

The programme will seek to get girls back into classes, with it being rolled out originally in 11 countries: Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda. While the scheme is certainly a global one, officials from the White Housee have made it clear that it also highlights a commitment from the US to be more involved in the Asia-Pacific region.

Writing in her online travel journal, Mrs Obama said: “Like so many women I was able to achieve both my professional and personal goals because of my education. My education is the starting point for every opportunity in my life.”

Mrs Obama went on to further say that the fact that 62 million girls around the world are unable to attend school is a "profound waste of human potential". These sentiments were echoed by Abe, who believes that the social and career-led possibilities of schools are the things that all girls should have access to. In the past, Abe has openly disagreed with her husband on certain issues, but the couple have gone out of their way to promote better gender equality in both government and business.

As part of her trip, the US First Lady met with Japanese university students, visited Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and consulted with the prime minister himself. She was also joined by YouTube celebrity Michelle Phan to not only further spread awareness but to field questions that were sent through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Michelle Obama will now head off to Cambodia tomorrow (March 20th), which in contrast to Japan, is one of the poorest nations in Asia. Furthermore, the Japanese prime minister will continue the relations, by visiting the US during Golden Week, which will take place across Japan from late April to early May. Abe will also make a reciprocal visit to the US.