Future Leaders Canvass Global Leadership Roles: Sarah Palin & Maehara Seiji wkf2011 l 2011.10.11


The global economy seems to be spiraling into a renewed crisis after seemingly digging itself out of the economic hole hollowed out during 2008. Advanced nations are struggling to strike a practical balance between fiscal expansion and deficit control, while emerging economies are plagued with fears of rampant inflation. The 12th World Knowledge Forum (WKF) has invited prominent future leaders of the East and West to steer the world towards new directions, which help shake off this quagmire once and for all.

Maehara Seiji, Japan`s frontrunner candidate for premiership, will open the forum on October 11th. Dubbed "Japan`s Tony Blair," Maehara will shed light on new directions to be taken by Japan and emerging Asian countries, while propounding the WKF`s One Asia Momentum principle. Sarah Palin - envoy from the West, potential candidate for US Presidency, and celebrity political icon of America - will draw a new picture of US leadership in current global turmoil.

Sarah Palin Prescribes New Leadership Roles for America

Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and the Republican Party`s frontline female politician, will be making her very first visit to South Korea to attend the 12th WKF.

Palin first entered mainstream politics when she was named the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential elections. Ever since, Palin has been the figurehead of grassroots conservative politics known as the Tea Party Movement, which has been opening new scopes in US politics. Palin will be attending this year`s WKF to give a US leadership perspective on how to lead the world out of the latest crisis, the risks of double-dip recession in the US, and how to break the fiscal debt impasse. She is scheduled to give a solo speech on such issues from 09:00 to 10:00 at Vista Hall on Tuesday, October 11th.

Despite her relatively brief stay in center stage politics, Palin rose as a supernova, sprouting rumors of her bid for the 2012 presidential elections even before the 2008 contest ended. She has been hinting interest for the post, yet the delay in officially announcing her campaign has kept fans guessing for months.

Admittedly, Palin is not a favorite among the privileged. She is a frequent target of ridicule by those who disapprove of her lack of sophistication, which tarnishes the conventional image of well-polished and refined politicians. Yet, her down-to-earth nature is exactly what cultivated her loyal and enthusiastic core of supporters. Palin is estimated to bring in roughly 12% of the rightwing votes at a time when polling shows approval for both parties at historic lows.

Palin`s growing appeal is not an isolated chronicle of a rising celebrity. "Sarah Palin-ization," should be seen as a socio-political trend and a manifestation of the current political mood, says former IMF chief economist and University of Chicago Professor Raghuram Rajan. She does not come from the Christian elite, is not a studied economist, and even makes well-noted mistakes in her speeches. Yet, "that is her great strength: the fact that she doesn`t know and therefore isn`t part of the crowd that drives the kinds of compromises that politics necessarily involve," said Rajan at a Singapore conference organized by Japan`s Nomura.

Palin characterizes her family as "an average American Middle Class Family," as her daughter turns single mother at 18, her son serves as a soldier in Iraq, and her youngest suffers from Down Syndrome. This far-from-elite background makes her the most likely politician to empathize with the worries of average middle class families. In Palin`s words, her followers are people "running America`s small businesses, working in American factories, fighting American wars. Many from small towns, towns that are on the verge of collapse, living the kinds of lives that are quickly becoming extinct."

The devastating crash of the 2008 global financial crisis and stunted recovery efforts has proliferated distrust in Wall Street, politicians, corporations, and other elites. Frustration runs rampant among America`s broader public on the existing political system as a whole. In this climate, Palin stands out as the most likely maverick to turn the system on its head.

As a potential presidential candidate, Palin will attend the 12th WKF as a keynote speaker to shed new light on the risk of double-dip recession and policies to help overcome financial setbacks. As a noted nonconformist, Palin will draw new roles for the US as a hegemonic power and propose a fresh take on how to fill in the global leadership vacuum in the anarchic, horizontal international system.

Maehara Sketches Asia`s Role in Global Leadership Vacuum

The recent downturn of advanced economies brought home a new truth for global players: that Japan`s lost decade is not an isolated incident, but a global problem looming over the US, Europe, and other advanced economies. As such, the question of how Japan will shake off its lost decade is becoming ever so relevant. Japan`s future is a matter of particular interest for its East Asian neighbors Korea and China, as the three nations shoulder common responsibility to actualize the One Asia Momentum.

The WKF has invited Policy Chief of the Democratic Party (DPJ) of Japan Maehara Seiji - the strongest contender for Japan`s latest race for premiership - to answer these questions. Maehara will deliver his solo speech from 08:20 to 09:00 at Vista Hall on Tuesday, October 11th.

Maehara served key governmental posts as Finance Minister and Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as well as being the former president of the DPJ. A noted graduate of the Matshushita Institute of Government and Management, the same as the current premier Naoto Kan, Maehara has earned the nickname of "Japan`s Tony Blair" for his telegenic charms and swift success despite his youth. His youth, ground-breaking ideas, strong resolve, and shining leadership have won over popular support from Japan`s public, and he is singled out as the frontrunner of Japan`s politics.

As the DPJ`s Policy Chief, Maehara offers a unique perspective on Asia`s role in the global leadership vacuum and Japan`s future directions. Asia`s rapid economic rise has made history over the past decades, even more so now as recent calamities undercut faith in the traditional Western mode of development. Asia is the prime growth powerhouse for the world, and the combination of East, Southeast, and South Asia - which includes China, Japan, India, Korea, and ASEAN nations - will account for 45% of the world GDP by 2050. Thus far, Asia has been unable to capitalize on this collective strength due to the highly divisive nature of the region`s economic, demographic, social, and political systems. Japan has long been a proponent of a unified Asian front, calling all Asian nations to come together for greater regional clout, and as such, Maehara`s take on Asia`s role serves as a useful window to predict Asia`s prospects. The very fact that Maehara is a rising star who will play a big part in molding the future makes his speech all the more valuable.

Japan`s global standing has been waning as of late as the once-proud global leader gets beaten down by a lost decade of economic slump and disastrous earthquakes. Maehara`s speech will afford better conjectures on new directions to be taken by Japan, which is at a critical crossroad between rebound and decline.

Maehara stands out in Japan`s political landscape, where most elected officials tend to be scions of blue-blooded political families. In contrast, Maehara is a self-made man who grew up in a single-mother household since his father`s premature death by suicide, persevered through his hardships until he was admitted into the prestigious Kyoto University Law School. His clean and youthful image fed into his popularity, allowing Maehara to win over Naoto Kan in the 2005 DPJ elections by a close margin of two votes. His swift rise through the ranks at the age of 43 closely resembled the course taken by the UK`s youngest prime minister who took helm of the Labour Party at age 41, which prompted the Japanese media to nickname Maehara "Japan`s Tony Blair."

[2011.10.10]

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