TOKYO — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe announced plans Thursday to deepen cooperation in helping girls in developing nations finish their educations, vowing to help them attain goals that many in wealthy countries take for granted.
Mrs. Obama, who in her online travel journal described her trip as a “part of a journey that began decades ago, back when I was a little girl,” is visiting Japan and Cambodia, who are among Asia’s richest and poorest nations.
“Like so many women I was able to achieve both my professional and personal goals because of my education,” Mrs. Obama said. “My education is the starting point for every opportunity in my life.”
She described the fact that at least 62 million girls are unable to attend school as a “profound waste of human potential.”
As a major aid donor, Japan plans to cooperate with the community-based “Let Girls Learn” initiative recently announced by President Barack Obama and his wife. On Thursday it announced plans to devote 42 billion yen ($340 million) over three years to supporting girls’ empowerment and gender sensitive education.
Japan and the U.S. also agreed to focus more development assistance on supporting girls’ education. The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers will also cooperate with the Peace Corps, which is implementing the Let Girls Learn program.