U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered encouragement and praise to young people from Japan's disaster-hit areas as part of an initiative aimed at supporting the country's youth and strengthening Japan-U.S. ties.
Clinton met with 20 or so high school and university students, including a sprinkling of Americans, at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Tokyo on July 8.
Clinton told the students that while their losses from last year's disaster are enormous, they have learned what is important in their own lives and for society.
Atsuko Arimoto, a second-year student at the Fukushima National College of Technology, told the gathering that she wants to become a diplomat after studying in the United States from autumn.
The 16-year-old has evacuated from her home in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, to Iwaki, in the same prefecture.
"The life I had in my hometown is gone," she said. "But I've encountered many (people) along the way that have put me on this new path."
Hana Abe, 17, a second-year student at Ishinomaki High School in Miyagi Prefecture, lost her father in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Abe said her dream is to lead a project to have Matsushima, a group of pine-covered islands in the prefecture that is dubbed one of three most scenic spots in Japan, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Clinton said Japan, with young people like Arimoto and Abe, can look forward to a solid future.
The Tomodachi Initiative is designed to deepen Japan-U.S. exchanges in education, culture and economy. The Japanese government and private companies are cooperating with the project.
About 500 Japanese youngsters will study in the United States this summer under this program, which builds on the U.S. military’s Operation Tomodachi emergency rescue activities in Japan immediately after the disaster.
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