About Our 100 Founders
UWC ISAK Japan will be forever grateful to the school’s 100 founding donors who have all played an instrumental role in creating the first full-boarding international high school in Japan. Thanks to the generosity of these leaders, motivated students from around the world will gain the skills necessary to become catalysts for positive change.
Mamoru TaniyaWhy is someone like me, who has been in the investment business for the last twenty years, now setting up an international school? It is because through the experience of investing in businesses in Japan and throughout Asia, I realized that what matters the most at the end of the day is responsible leadership. What the world needs most is ambitious and competent leaders who can be catalysts for economic growth and political progress. I became convinced that our best hope for the emergence of this type of leader lies in providing young people with a challenging academic and experience-based education that will teach them about the world and what they can do to improve it. This conviction grew so strong that I could no longer ignore or resist it.
I first started wondering about an “ideal education” over twenty years ago, when I was in ninth grade. At the time, I was enrolled in one of Japan’s most prestigious schools, which sent over 100 students to Japan’s top university every year.
I’m the type of person who might say, “It’s a shame that an ideal school doesn’t exist” But my wife and the founders, including Mr. Taniya, said, “The ideal school doesn’t exist, so let’s create one!” I was astonished by how different their perspectives were. I’d never deeply considered words like “vocation” and “meaning of life” before then, so it was a true blessing to be able to help make this dream school a reality.
Mr. Taniya has described my wife as a “trailblazer.” The image is of a smooth path cut parting a see of trees. But in reality, trailblazing is rarely smooth and never easy. The path is rough with many bogs to clear and mountains to conquer. Along the way, trailblazers pick up plenty of scrapes and mud but they never give up until they find a way through.
It is my hope that UWC ISAK will continue to be a catalyst for positive change in education and relentlessly pursue the values and aspirations of its founders.
“Responsibilities for adults living today are to take as much steps forward to evolve this world and the future society, and to pass the baton to the next generation ― this is not only to protect, but also to make it better. To bring ISAK to realization is to connect such “good practice” that we adults have learned directly to children who will take on the future. I promise that support from as many of you as possible will be the cornerstone for creating a better future. The school that we can be proud of and show to the world will finally be established in our very own country, Japan. Let’s create the future, and the school together!”
“ISAK provides a place for learning where Asia and Japan meet, exchange experiences, and give birth to new ideas together. I am sure that the friendships nurtured through spending time together during a susceptible period in a boarding school environment will mean all the world to its students and believe that they will bring new possibilities for the individual students and for the global community.”
“I decided to donate, hoping to create leaders with a new style of leadership within Asia that does not just follow the rules of Europe and the U.S. Through supporting students with scholarships, I am receiving incredible energy from both students and other founders. This experience is priceless.”
Dr. Fumio Tateishi
A Day at ISAK in 2030
“It has been 17 years since ISAK first opened its doors. ISAK’s inaugural class of graduates are still young in age in their early 30′s, but they have returned to their home countries and are now creating peace in their countries, fighting for world peace in international organizations, dedicating their efforts to advancing medicine to ensure the health of the world’s people, and devoting themselves to scientific research to procure a more enriched society and lifestyle for humanity. ISAK’s mission and philosophy have truly shaped its students and teachers, and “Team ISAK” is changing the world. How wonderful!”
—From a journal entry in the year 2030
“Japan is part of Asia. I wish that through living and studying together, students from various Asian countries grew to become future leaders who can think for the future of Japan, Asia and the world from the perspective of Asia as a whole.”
“After graduating from college, I worked for a Japanese trading company, followed by twenty years at a foreign asset management company. Over the course of my career, I was involved in employee recruiting, and my experience left me feeling concerned about the paucity of forward-looking, globally-oriented Japanese candidates coming through our hiring process.
As a mother of two high school children, I am often concerned about how best to prepare my children for a world so different from even just ten years ago. Although I cannot accurately predict what my children will face as they move forward, I believe that, as the foundation for the world’s economic growth shifts to Asia, it is possible that Asian values will play a stronger role on the global stage. One thing I am certain of is that in this fast-paced, multifaceted world, we need people who are not only culturally literate, but who can think independently and communicate ideas about Asian culture and values to the rest of the world.
In 2010, we stumbled upon the ISAK Summer Program. In addition to my son attending the program, our family hosted a student from Myanmar who was also participating. The two days we spent with that young student, who grew up in an environment completely different from that experienced by my son and his friends from international school, were full of learning opportunities for all of us, and we were truly impressed by the student’s maturity and love for his country.
ISAK will be an innovative educational environment that exceeds the goals of typical Japanese middle schools and high schools. I fully support ISAK’s educational concepts and unique curriculum, and it is my hope that many students will have the opportunity to choose this school for their future.”
“In a person’s lifetime, one has little opportunity to be part of creating a new school. Moreover, with the declining birthrate and the aging population in Japan today, the student numbers are on a decline. This is why I never thought that I would become part of establishing such a meaningful school. I am very grateful to be given such a rare opportunity from Ms. Lin Kobayashi and Mr. Taniya, and of course, from many volunteers. I am thrilled, just envisioning in my mind, how children will leave the nest in the future to take on and flourish on the stage in Japan, Asia, and around the world.”
“For many years, I have been thinking about what is needed in education and what it takes to help young people develop, based on the definition that education is “something that supports the establishment of the self.” There are three reasons why I became highly interested in education:
1. I now have children of my own.
2. I had the opportunity to contribute to an elementary school in the Republic of Benin.
3. I had the opportunity to meet many Japanese university students during the course of recruiting activities, and I became concerned about education in Japan.
The one thing that these three points have in common is that developing young people is equivalent to building a country.
I am confident that through an educational program that creates leaders, we will be able to turn out individuals who create positive change, whether in Japan, Asia or other parts of the world. In order for this to happen, I think it is important for students to develop self-esteem as their personal operating system at a young age. An increase in the number of people who have self-affirmation, self-determination and a sense of responsibility will serve as the driving force to improve society.
I made the decision to become an ISAK founder because my ideas matched the ideas and convictions of Lin Kobayashi. I would like to work in cooperation with the other founders and ISAK supporters to help foster global leaders. I look forward to working with all of you.”
“It is wonderful that ISAK will provide Japanese students the opportunity to study alongside the most outstanding students from around the world. At the same time, I believe that ISAK’s true value is not only the impact it has on Japanese education, but also its fostering of students from overseas in Japan. Brilliant students from overseas are educated in Japan, develop relationships with their peers from around the world, interact with the local community in Karuizawa, immerse themselves in Japan’s beautiful nature, dine on fresh Japanese cuisine, and experience the fine beauty of Japan. These students will then return to their home countries and spread what they have learned in Japan. The bonds that students have with each other- across language barriers and cultural differences- will last through the diplomatic problems that affect the international community in the future. I have great hope that ISAK will be a platform for building these trusting relationships.”
“In today’s world, knowledge has a much different meaning than it did even a few years ago. What type of education is best for the young people of today? I have high expectations that ISAK will set the benchmark for a new form of education as it tackles such issues.”
I first met Lin Kobayashi in 2008. At that time, I remember she spoke eloquently about the necessity of educational reform in Asia and Japan. She spoke persuasively based on her personal experiences in Canada and the Philippines. In addition, my trusted friend Mamoru Taniya served as a representative founder. My desire to support the pure aspirations of these two people inspired me to become an ISAK founder.
Around that time, I was also feeling a growing concern about the way Japanese schools focused on passive “memorization” rather than active “pursuits.” If I look back on my own life, I grew up attending a very unique school called Seijogakuen Elementary School, where we did not have report cards. I felt it would be valuable if we could create a similar type of education that enables students to freely develop their individual strengths, and share that education worldwide. Recently, the term “active learning” has often come my attention, but from the start, “learning” must be an active activity. I find it unfortunate that we had to come up with the term “active learning,” since ideally, learning is a process of discovery, and not just an act of memorization.
Previously, Mamoru Taniya and I worked together as outside directors of a venture capital company. He dreamed of creating an international boarding school for highly capable and aspiring students in Asia. I have been rooting for his success since he and Lin Kobayashi began to make the dream a reality and took on the epic challenge of creating a school from scratch.
When you are at an impressionable age in high school, I think that the opportunity to live in a dormitory and learn with students from other countries is a valuable and irreplaceable experience. We hope to raise leaders who possess high aspirations to contribute to peace and development around the world, building on the sympathy for others that they developed at ISAK.
It will not be simple to change education in Japan, which focuses on teaching children how to study for the entrance exams for famous universities. But I hope that Japan’s education system will begin to reform as the students who studied at ISAK achieve worldwide success.
“In July 2012, I participated in the first ISAK Founders Conference and saw firsthand the site where the ISAK facilities will be constructed. The experience left me with the strong impression that ISAK will be a school that shapes the future of Japan. It will not be an easy task to recruit students from around the world and teach them and their Japanese counterparts the skills they need to become leaders, but I think this is a tremendously important project for the future of Japan, and I would like to support this endeavor as much as possible. I look forward to the opening of the school in 2014.”
“I decided to become an ISAK founder because I felt a strong affinity for ISAK’s concept of creating a school for the future leaders of Asia. Japanese students who attend ISAK will be able to spend their high school years interacting with motivated peers from throughout Asia, which will have a positive impact on their values, communication skills and academic abilities.
Likewise, students coming to ISAK from abroad will have the valuable opportunity to study in the beautiful environment of Karuizawa with other talented young people from the Asia-Pacific region. I have faith that the students who graduate from ISAK will one day be leading Japan and the world.”
“ISAK is going to pioneer a new spirit and a new approach for fostering more globally-minded young Asian leaders. This is what Japan particularly needs in order to connect better with the world.”
“After I graduated from university and joined a Japanese company, I had the opportunity to study in the United States. I was somehow able to manage the academics, but in terms of personal interaction, there were many things I did not understand, and I felt I was not prepared to handle the diversity. I wanted my own children to be exposed to a diverse environment from a young age and have their own thoughts and ideas, which is why I decided to send them to an international school.
I felt that it would be wonderful to have a school that brought together talented students from diverse countries, not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of sports and the arts as well. In that sense, I think the International School of Asia, Karuizawa will be an ideal school. I wish the best of luck to ISAK!”
“This project stems from the tremendous hopes my generation has to leave something for the next generation. Our knowledge, friendship and enthusiasm, as well as a destiny that has brought us together, are helping to create something new, and it is my great privilege to be a part of this wonderful project. As one of Japan’s greatest educators said, today is the first day of the rest of your life, and you will never reach your goals unless you start the journey. I am excited to help bring this dream to reality.”
“In the summer of 2011, I had the chance to listen to Lin Kobayashi talk about the ISAK project in a panel discussion with Shuichi Abe, Governor of Nagano Prefecture. I was able to talk to Lin further after I returned to Tokyo, and the discussion encouraged me to do what I could to support the ISAK project, which is how I made up my mind to become a Founder.
One of my main frustrations when I managed a business in Japan was the lack of a risk-taking attitude among future managers. I understand that today’s young people are facing a different situation than when I was working in an era of high-growth development. However, it is precisely because the economy is in a period of slow growth that I have strongly and repeatedly urged young people to seek out opportunities for leadership on a global scale.
It depends on the efforts of everyone involved in the ISAK project, including myself, to turn the ISAK dream into reality. Now that I have become a jazz musician, I will be spending more and more time in Karuizawa. I expect that my enthusiasm for fostering leadership among young people and love of Karuizawa will sustain my support for this project for a long time to come. I look forward to contributing more to ISAK, including working with the other Founders.”
“Many years ago, I was enrolled at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo, which at that time had a boarding school program. I spent five years living in the dormitory, from second grade until sixth grade. It was a tremendous life experience for me, leaving me with invaluable memories and strong friendships. At my former school, mixed-race students were a rarity, and I was always something of an outsider. The new environment at St. Mary’s changed my world. Children from many different backgrounds got along as equals, and it was like heaven to me not be viewed in terms of my race.
At residential schools, students learn together, eat together and sleep under the same roof. For me, that experience resulted in deep friendships with people from around the world. A “nation” is just a political boundary, but relationships between individuals run much deeper than that.
ISAK will also be a fully residential international school. As a member of ISAK’s board of directors and as a founder, I would like to share my knowledge and experience with the other board members and founders as we work to define ISAK’s mission and curriculum, helping to create the best fully-residential international school in the world.”
“A month after the Great East Japan Earthquake took place in 2011, I met Ms. Lin Kobayashi and heard about the fund-raising effort of ISAK. Under such serious circumstances, I felt strongly about the importance of education and I delightedly became a founder. I believe that ISAK will be an international school nurturing the leaders who connect Asia with Japan and lead the world.”
“When I heard a talk about a new school being developed called ISAK, the wonderful ideals resonated with me, although I felt the plan might be difficult to achieve. When I met Mr. Taniya and Ms. Kobayashi, they still had to overcome challenges such as getting government approval to establish the school, anxiety about proceeding on schedule, and the need for a large amount of donations. That being said, Japan’s educational system at that time emphasized organizational strength and unity because the manufacturing industry was at the core of post-war economic growth. This style of education was good for that period of time, but after the economic bubble collapsed, it wasn’t clear what should be done next.
Under the circumstances, I wondered what I could do to support education. I often hear complaints about the current poor quality of education in the schools or complaints about the Ministry of Education. But, just as executives must stop blaming the economy or employees for their corporation’s downturn, I felt that it was important to take action, rather than just be an observer. Changing education can take 50 – 100 years, a long period of time. With that in mind, I feel fortunate to have become involved in ISAK from the beginning. As a Founder, I want to support the project with a long-term view. Together with you, I’m looking forward to supporting the growth of the school and the students.”
“It is well known that the health of any organized society depends overwhelmingly on the leaders of the period, whether it is in business, government or any other form of organization or society. We are now in the second decade of the 21st century, and the global influence of Asia, including Japan, has been increasing substantially year by year. I expect ISAK, which aims to become a premier boarding school in Asia, to produce future leaders who will build a better society in Japan, Asia and the world. Furthermore, I hope that the emergence and activities of ISAK will trigger a transformation in the educational system in Japan, and provide vitality to Japanese society.”
“As parents of two young children, education is one of our main interests. Creating a new way to prepare the future generation to live their ‘one life’ is what drove us to become a founder of ISAK. When knowledge is readily available, leadership skills and the ability to adapt to an ever-more diverse world is what really matters. Helping brilliant and mature students maximize their potential in this fast growing region, Asia, is what this school is all about. And this is worth supporting!”
“To ensure the future of Japan, Asia and the world, there is an urgent need for top-level education that combines the concepts of national identity and global citizenship. I look forward to seeing ISAK, as a pioneering educational institution, take the lead in making this type of education a reality.”
“In his text ‘An Encouragement of Learning,’ Fukuzawa Yukichi, founder of Keio University, wrote ‘The difference between the wise man and the fool is that one studies and the other does not. All men are born equal, with no man being higher or lower than any other man. It is those men who work hard and strive to learn who will become wealthy and wise.’ At a time when the decline in the state of education is lamented and Japan’s educational system itself is being questioned, we need to return to the spirit of the times when Japan was opening up to the outside, and help make Japan a quality nation through education. Furthermore, Japan should fulfill its responsibilities as a nation that attained early economic growth and boasts a solid infrastructure and social institutions by serving as the host country where students from throughout Asia can come together in order to discover and learn. To achieve this, it is necessary to create a school unlike anything ever imagined, where students can study universal truths with an Asian perspective, preparing them for a role in today’s modern international world.
At ISAK, students and teachers from around the globe will be applying themselves to education in the safe and beautiful environment of Karuizawa, and I strongly support the school’s mission which aims to foster the leaders of the future in order to achieve the development and growth of the Asia region. I am proud to support this project. Furthermore, I would like to express my admiration for the ISAK staff who have taken on the tremendous challenge of founding a new school in Japan, in spite of the many difficulties and regulations. I am excited to be a part of this project, and I look forward to seeing how ISAK graduates set the course of the future.”
“The reason why I made a donation for ISAK is simply because I would like to enter the school which Ms. Lin Kobayashi established. Since the school opened in 2014, it has been getting an increased media attention and I have been feeling a mixture of expectation and anxiety for future these days. I think the only way that we can sustain world peace is though appreciation of the other cultures, communication, cooperation and coexistence. It is our pride and pleasure to foster the future Asian leaders in our area. I believe that the alumni of ISAK will play an important role for world peace as a representative of their homeland.”
“I started to be truly interested in ISAK when I listened to the impassioned speech by Ms. Lin Kobayashi about the philosophy of ISAK in the alumni association of the University of Tokyo. The idea of setting one’s own agenda and fostering change makers has never been accepted before in the Japanese education system which approves of doing what others do.
Through my experience of working in the overseas business field for many years, I would say that the goal of education that ISAK aims for is essential for Japanese and Asian students who are expected to be leaders in the world. I am proud to be a part of this project thanks to the efforts of many people.”
“In Japanese society today, especially in its major cities, schools — from as early as preschool all the way through high school — seem to serve one main purpose: to function as a stepping stone to get into a prestigious university, which is a stepping stone to get a prestigious job at a prestigious company. Many parents mistakenly perceive this as the best way to ensure a bright future for their children. These children attend cram school day after day, blindly following the path that is handed down to them, and are taught to call this “studying.” It is an unfortunate and dangerous reality.
In a world where we cannot predict the future and there is no one “right” answer to its problems, there are important things that youth must learn today other than what they read and memorize from their textbooks. But in Japan’s current state, children do not have the opportunity, in school or at home, to learn these important things, and this problem probably exists in many other countries around the world as well.
The kind of education that ISAK is promoting is not rigidly bound by academics. ISAK aims to cross national borders and religious differences and develop human beings who have the ability to take the leadership and find the keys to solve the world’s problems. What a spectacular mission with so much potential!
Now, ISAK has opened its doors at last in 2014, and its true worth is yet to be tested and determined. It takes time to see “results” in education; we will need to wait ten years, at the very least. I am convinced that as long as ISAK makes steady progress without forgetting its founding values, and without getting caught up in obtaining immediate results, ISAK will undoubtedly serve as a door that leads to a bright future. As someone in her late 60′s, I am not sure that I will see the effect that ISAK has on the world with my own eyes. But that does not bother me one bit. I am happy and grateful just to witness the growth of ISAK at its fresh and exciting beginning.”
“As a science fiction fan for many years, I have long been interested in the future. Will the future be bright? Gloomy? Disconnected? And what can we do to make the future better? When I met Ms. Lin Kobayashi, I realized that the shape of the future will be determined by what the younger generation is learning. I am sure the future will be better because young people at ISAK are practicing their leadership skills in a diverse community. ISAK students will be the shapers of our future.
Every year when I visit ISAK, the students show us their projects. The varied and dynamic learning I see at ISAK goes beyond country, culture and ethnicity. Each year, I deepen my conviction that ISAK is fostering transformational leaders who will create a better world.
It gives me pleasure to support ISAK in creating a bright future. I will continue to support our next generation of leaders!”
“I think one of the reasons the US and the UK are looked upon as powerful nations is their strong emphasis on the education of their students to tell the know-how and research results to them. Similarly ISAK hopes to provide every student with a solid education filled with different knowledge and experiences that will enrich their body and soul.
I hope that ISAK exists for children who desire to play a vital role in the world or Asia and also future leaders who aspire to lead fairly and honestly through the learning of others’ cultures and lifestyles, and accepting and overcoming language differences. I hope the international students at ISAK will adopt Japan as their second home country and that it creates and leaves a deep impression on them during these formative high school years. I hope ISAK provides an international study experience for Japanese students, especially for those whose wish to study overseas cannot come true due to various reasons.
Through ISAK, it is my hope that foreign-born Japanese students will continue learning in an environment where the usage of English is key, and be able to establish a strong sense of their Japanese identity. I strongly identify with the ISAK philosophy of providing scholarship opportunities to its students. I would like to unite and work together with other founders to make this philosophy sustainable and reality not far from the ideal.”
“I hope that ISAK will hold its place as an:
Kaleidoscope….always shining, always changing, serving as a melting pot for students around the world
I hope that ISAK will continue to:
Kindle the world in order to create a bright future
I hope the students attending ISAK will turn out to be “both and” simultaneously:
Idealist and Instigator
Storyteller and Scientist
Athlete and Artist
Keystone (holding pieces together) and Knockdown (breaking pieces apart)”
The moment I met Lin Kobayashi, without a doubt, I knew I wanted to support her. From the idea of making a school and even after founded, to this date, challenges come up one after another. Yet, with Lin’s passion, she overcomes those challenges step by step firmly and strongly and grows the school successfully. Just watching and hearing her stories, I am in love with her character and caught in a loop of happiness.
It goes without saying that the students who gather in a place created by a leader with passion and love are attractive.
We will continue to support the school that will deliver the light of hope to the future and around the world.
Education is like the “time machine” in Doraemon Anime series. Though we cannot live in the future with our children, we can be a part to create the future together. With that in mind, I joined to become one of the founders. Thank you to Mr. Taniya who created such a wonderful opportunity, and Lin-chan and the team who have been making tireless efforts until today (2021) and every day from now on. I’m just grateful! Hope that ISAK graduates will be the leaders of all societies!
Thanks to my father’s job, I was able to spend my childhood in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I clearly remember playing and arguing with local children in Taiwan, which at that time, Japan did not even recognize as a country.
Education in Japan during the high-growth period was a system that supported reproduction expansion through industrialization. There is no doubt that it was a world-class education system. But times have changed, technology has evolved into creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship, and game changers. In response to the change, the Japanese education must change itself, including its purpose and methodology. I feel that ISAK is an important project as a touchstone. And beyond that, I truly feel the importance of young talented students around the world learning in Japan and contributing to the world onwards.
Will Japan, Asia and the world continue to advance towards an ideal society based on the principles of freedom and equality?
For example, Japan was in a situation of despair at the end of World War II (40% loss of national wealth, average life expectancy of 42 years, population 7.2 million), but managed to pull itself up to join the ranks of developed countries, primarily by boosting its economic strength. However, a mountain of tasks continue to confront Japan, including a declining birthrate, aging population, inward-focused citizens who lack ambition, and somewhat ironically, concerns about a decline in economic strength!
For a company, the development of human resources is the most important starting point for creating future value. The same can be said for Japan, Asia and the world. To achieve this development in human resources, we need to shift from passive learning that focuses on memorization to an education style that teaches each student how to identify issues, develop a strategy and resolutely execute a plan to solve those issues. I call this type of person who can execute a plan and take responsibility “The Last Man.”
I think what Ms. Lin Kobayashi and the other members of ISAK are aiming to achieve, which is to foster young people who will be the architects of an ideal society, is revolutionary. As one of the founders, I will continue to follow their progress and watch over them with great expectations.
It is not something to come; it is something to create.
she wants to foster a “changemaker” that changes the world, including the present. I simply can’t resist supporting such people.
Also in the land of Karuizawa.
Karuizawa is where I learned a tremendous amount in my youth during my time planning and managing Karuizawa Bell Commons.
It will be an important place for Japan’s future as well as for us.
ISAK launched in Karuizawa and later joined the UWC movement.
Furthermore, I am happy that the possibility has increased.
We will continue to support you as much as possible.
I am a strong believer in the power of education as a means to transform society and to shape the future of our world. I jumped on the proposition of establishing a UWC school in Japan, and in a heartbeat, I agreed to become a Founder of ISAK. Many UWC graduates I have crossed paths with, including my godson, are not just “book smart” but are truly impressive individuals. The ethos of UWC education is to draw upon young people from diverse backgrounds on the basis of their shared humanity and to bring about positive social change through action and leadership. In this world of increasing interdependence and rapid technological change, I am convinced that ISAK, as a UWC school, will deliver the needed transformational educational experience. I will continue to support ISAK.