As Clinton was in Japan for the Afghanistan international donors’ conference, the “Youth Leadership Dialogue” event was held to give Japanese students a chance to speak with her. Three BEYOND Tomorrow students participated in this event.
Atsuko Arimoto, who will attend a boarding school starting September through the BEYOND Tomorrow High School Study Abroad Program, acted as a student representative, giving a speech in front of Clinton.
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Atsuko Arimoto. I am from Okuma town in Fukushima where the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is located.
It is my great honor to have this opportunity to speak to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of other students from Tohoku. American people helped Tohoku and thanks to the relief support we received from them, I am here today.
My home was only 3km away from the nuclear plant and therefore I had to move to another city. Okuma town was designated as no go zone due to high radiation levels and probably I cannot go back there any time soon. I lost my home, an ordinary life in my home town and got separated from friends and neighbors. My life changed completely on March 11th.However, I never think I am unhappy. The disaster gave me chances to meet many people who guide me to new paths. With the help of TOMODACHI and BEYOND Tomorrow, I am going to study in the United States from this September.
On behalf of the TOMODACHI generation, I am very proud to speak to Secretary Clinton today and also want to thank all the American people who cared about Japan in the time of its greatest need. I am looking forward to finally meeting them in September when I move to the United States.
My dream is to become a diplomat and work in the foreign service. In the world, there are many problems. It is difficult to solve all the problems at once. But we can move forward step by step. We, the TOMODACHI generation, will make the future of Tohoku, Japan, and the world.
Thank you very much.
Second year, Fukushima National College of Technology (BEYOND Tomorrow High School Study Abroad Program participant)
Her house 3km away from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Atsuko had to evacuate from her hometown of Okuma townto a temporary housing complex in Iwaki city. Touched by the multitude of people from across the world who aided Japan after the disaster, Atsuko wants to give back and aspires to work in a field where she can help others who are in greater need than she is. Her dream is to become a diplomat to work on global agenda. As a first step of the endeavor, she plans to study in a boarding high school in the United States through the BEYOND Tomorrow High School Study Abroad Program. She hopes to proceed to university in the United States to become a well-rounded indivdiual with global perspectives.
First year, School of Social and International Studies at University of Tsukuba (Takada High School graduate; BEYOND Tomorrow Scholarship Program participant)
Masahiro lost both his parents in Rikuzentakata. At high school Masahiro demonstrated exceptional leadership as the president of the student council, and after the disaster visited the United Nations headquarters in Europe as part of the 14th High School Peace Ambassador Program. Masahiro realized the importance of international cooperation after the disaster, and he believes that communicating the importance of disaster prevention to the rest of the world is now a critical mission for Japan. In the future, Masahiro would like to become the mayor of Rikuzentakata to lead the way in the recovery of the disaster areas. In particular, he would like to address issues of unemployment, recalling how many people lost their jobs in the disaster and were in dire financial straits.
First year, Faculty of Engineering at Utsunomiya University (Ofunato High School graduate; BEYOND Tomorrow Scholarship Program participant)
Masahide was in Ofunato when the disaster struck. As a result of the tsunami, he lost his mother, grandmother, and house, and is now living in rented accommodation with his father and two younger brothers. Because he survived when so many lives were lost, Masahide believes that it is his mission to plan towns that are safe from natural disasters and contribute to the future recovery. Masahide would like to set up a company that carries out projects related to the recovery effort, and would like to participate in the planning of towns along the Sanriku Coast so that they are resilient to damage from natural disasters. Masahide visited the United States in March 2012 through the BEYOND Tomorrow U.S. Spring Program and communicated to diverse audiences about the realities of the Tohoku disaster.
The event was featured in the following media: