The Straits Times
Published on Nov 23, 2012

Japan school aims to create 'Asian leaders'


KARUIZAWA, Japan (AFP) - Asia may be driving growth in the world economy but a Japanese businesswoman behind an innovative new school believes the region is over-reliant on Western-style leadership.

Ms Lin Kobayashi hopes her foundation outside Tokyo will help change that by breeding a wave of political and business leaders - but with what she sees as a more "Asian" way of thinking.

Building work on the International School of Asia, Karuizawa (ISAK) began in September. The launch of classes, all taught in English, is planned for 2014 making it Japan's first international boarding high school.

Ms Kobayashi, 38, a former investment analyst at Morgan Stanley, said the school will bring together students from a wide range of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, with scholarships for poor students funded by donations. "Asia is already at the centre of the world's economy, but is still relying on Western-style leadership that thinks charisma is only to be found in a loud, top-down approach," Ms Kobayashi said. "I think we need Asia-oriented leaders who value consensus and harmony and can combine that with deep background knowledge about the complicated history and diverse cultures of Asia."