Photo: first lady Michelle Obama shaking hands with TUJ student

TUJ students Shoko Ito and Aiko Shigeta were selected with 18 other college and high school students for a round table discussion at the Joint Japan – U.S. Event on Girls Education hosted by first lady Akie Abe with a speech by first lady Michelle Obama. The event took place at the Iikura Guest House of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, March 19.

The event was organized as one of the highlights of the U.S. first lady’s three-day visit to Japan. Seven other TUJ students and Senior Associate Dean Chie Kato were also among the 200 guests including many students from elementary schools to colleges. TUJ students Priscilla Izumi Cook, Aminah Camara Johnson, Courtney Kelly, Melody Salcedo, Daisy Emma Samuel, Nicole Rae Stagg, and Akane Yamagami together with Ito and Shigeta heard speeches from a MOFA representative, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, Mrs. Abe, and Mrs. Obama.

Photo: group photo of nine TUJ students with first ladies Abe and Obama.
Nine TUJ students took part in the Joint Japan – U.S. Event on Girls Education by first ladies Abe and Obama.
Photo: Japanese first lady Akie Abe (left) with TUJ student Melody Salcedo.
Japanese first lady Akie Abe (left) with TUJ student Melody Salcedo.

During the round table discussion after the speeches, only a few students were given a chance to talk, and Shigeta was one of them. She spoke about her experience with her friend from the Middle East at TUJ. “I was very delighted to have this precious opportunity to share my thoughts on girls’ education with first lady Michelle Obama and first lady Akie Abe,” said Shigeta.

“It was evident from the discussion that both of them are very serious about the issue of girls not having access to education, and the importance of female students like us stepping up and taking action. This experience has left us to reflect on the significance of the issue and the importance of solving it,” she added.

Photo: Mechelle Obama and Akie Abe.
Michelle Obama (left) and Akie Abe.

According to the Washington Post, “Obama’s solo trip—her first visit to Japan—was part of her effort to promote the Let Girls Learn initiative that she and President Obama announced this month.”

TUJ student Aiko Shigeta at the round table appears at approx. 0’39”