I. China: Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC)
Xi Jinping was born on June 151953, in Shaanxi Province in northwestern China. His father, Xi Zhongxun, held a number of high-ranking positions in the Chinese government including being appointed to be China’s Vice-Premier in 1958. Unfortunately, after Mao Zedong, called for China’s youth to rebel against the government, Xi and his family were labelled disloyal and persecuted. Over the years, Xi father had developed a network of allies and supporters in Shaanxi Province. Accordingly, this was where Xi was sent when Mao tried to regain control of the government by sending China’s youth to the countryside. During his time in the countryside, Xi joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in what some have described as his way to escape persecution and become powerful. In China, the CPC is not only the main political party, but it is also plays a primary role in virtually every facet of life and especially in the government. Indeed, the CPC has the authority to appoint government officials and since all government official and works are CPC members, and all CPC members are required to follow CPC directives; the government technically must obey the CPC. After he became a member, Xi was appointed to become the CPC secretary of the village he was assigned to. Just as with his father, Shaanxi Province became his stronghold, the place from which he could always count on their loyal support. Once he became a CPC member, Xi dedicated himself to the goals and purposes of the party. He slowly and surely rose in seniority. This was partly due to his own skills, and partly due to his father, who had been politically rehabilitated in the 1970’s. In 2012, Xi was appointed not only the chairman or leader of the CPC but also the president of China, and the chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. In essence, he became and still is the leader of China and one of the most powerful men in the world.
II. Japan: Abe Shinzo, President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Abe Shinzo was born on September 21, 1954 in Yamaguchi Prefecture in southwestern Japan. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was the Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960, and his father, Abe Shintaro was Japan’s foreign minister from 1982 to 1986. In 1993Abe followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, running for and being elected to the Japanese Diet from Fourth District of Yamaguchi, which has been represented by a member of his family for most of the last 50 years. Similarly, like his grandfather and father, Abe ran as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). While a number of political parties compete for power in Japan, none have been more successful than the LDP since its formation in 1955. Since then, the LDP has been in power for well over fifty years. After nearly a decade in the Diet, Abe was appointed in October 2005 as the chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. When Koizumi was required to resign due to term limits, Abe was elected to be prime minister in October 2006. Under Japanese political customs, the prime minister is elected to the position by the political party with the most seats in the Diet. Moreover, election to the prime ministership necessarily means that you will also be the leader or president your political party. Accordingly, when Abe became the prime minister, he also became the president of the LDP. As prime minister, Abe did not last long. Less than a year after being elected to the top position he resigned due to poor health. However, in 2012, he successfully won a second chance at being prime minister and leader of the LDP. Abe’s two elections to the prime minister position illustrate two significant events in Japanese politics. First, at his election to prime minister in 2006, at the age of 52, he was the youngest prime minster of the post-war era. Second, his reelection to the prime minister position in 2012 marks the first non-consecutive election of a prime minister in modern Japanese political history.
III. Republic of Korea: Moon Jae-in, Chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party
Moon Jae-in was born on January 24, 1953 in Goeje, South Korea. Moon was accepted into Kyunghee University where he studied law. After gradation he joined the army and was eventually accepted into the elite Korean Special Forces (KSF). As a member of the KSF, Moon participated in South Korea’s response to the “Axe Murder” incident in which North Korean soldiers attacked and killed two U.S. Army officers trimming trees near the border with North Korea. After leaving the KSF, Moon passed the Korean Bar Exam and went on to further study in South Korea’s Judicial Research and Training Institute. After gradation Moon became human rights lawyer where he met Roh Moo Hyun. When Roh decided to run for president in 2003, he chose Moon to be his campaign manager. When Roh won the presidency, he appointed Moon to be his chief of staff. After Roh’s retirement in 2008, Moon returned to his law practice. But when Roh committed suicide in 2009 as a result of a corruption investigation of his affairs, Moon was called on to handle his affairs. Moon’s handling of the Roh suicide made him a popular choice to eventually become president. In 2012 he ran for a seat in the parliament as a member of the Democratic United Party (DUP) from Busan. Not only is Busan is South Korea’s second largest city but it is also where Moon “spent his formative years” and so is a place he feels will always support him. In 2012, as a member of the DUP, he came in second to eventual South Koreas President Park Geun-hye. In 2014, the DUP merged with the New Political Vision Party to form the New Politics Alliance Party for Democracy (NPAD). In 2015, Moon was elected as the leader of the NPAD. Currently, the NPAD is the main opposition party in South Korea and Moon is a popular candidate to replace Park in the 2017 elections.
Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Anne Walthall, East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Wadsworth, 2014.
“Japan is back: A conversation with Shinzo Abe,” Foreign Affairs, July/August, 2013, accessed July 15, 2015 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/interviews/2013-05-16/japan-back
Jeremy Laurence, “Moon rises in open South Korea presidential race,” Reuters, February 8, 2012, accessed July 15, 2015 http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/02/08/korea-politics-moon-idINDEE81701G20120208
Simon Mundy and Song Jung-a, “Moon rises in key South Korea battleground,” Financial Times, December 11, 2013, accessed July 15, 2015, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fc511418-4070-11e2-8e04-00144feabdc0.html
Evan Osnos, “Born Red,” New Yorker, April 06, 2015, accessed July 15, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/06/born-red