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Milestones of Japan's PM
Shinzo Abe

From political secretary to prime minister: A quick look at the highlights of Mr Abe's career

1982-1991 Left Kobe Steel in 1982 to work as political secretary to his father Shintaro Abe, then foreign minister, to prepare for a career in politics.
1993 Won a Lower House seat after the sudden death of his father in 1991. He stood in his late father's constituency in Yamaguchi prefecture, western Japan.
July 2000 Appointed Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary.
October 2005 Appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary.
September 2006 Elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and then prime minister, succeeding Mr Junichiro Koizumi.
July 2007 The LDP lost control of the Upper House in elections due to scandals involving some of Mr Abe's ministers, his administration's failure to revamp the ailing pension system and other issues. Mr Abe refused to resign to take the blame for the electoral loss.
September 2007 His debilitating bowel illness forced him to announce his resignation, after less than a year in office. He was admitted to hospital the following day.
September 2012 Re-elected president of the LDP in a five-way contest.
December 2012 Became prime minister for a second time, after his party won a landslide victory in general elections.
Early 2013 Mr Abe began unfolding his economic policies, which are labelled Abenomics by the media. The three arrows in the Abenomics quiver are: hyper-easy monetary policy; government spending on public works projects; and growth strategies, including economic reforms.

GRAPHIC BY DERRICK HO

10 things about Shinzo Abe

1. Born in Tokyo on September 21, 1954, Mr Shinzo Abe hails from a prominent political family. His maternal grandfather is the late prime minister Nobusuke Kishi and his father is the late foreign minister Shintaro Abe. His granduncle is the late Eisaku Sato, a former premier and winner of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize.

2. When he first became prime minister in 2006 at the age of 52, Mr Abe was Japan's youngest prime minister since World War Two and the first post-war born premier.

3. He is only the second Japanese politician ever to serve twice as prime minister. The first was Mr Shigeru Yoshida.

4. He is married to Akie, whose father was a former president of Morinaga, one of Japan's leading candy and confectionery makers. They have no children. 

5. Mr Abe graduated from Seikei University in Tokyo in 1977 in jurisprudence. 

6. He went to California to study English from 1977-1979 and spent three terms at the University of Southern California attending lectures in political science

7. During his 20s and 30s, Mr Abe was a big fan of Hongkong-born singer Agnes Chan. She became acquainted with him on a television programme and is said to be a frequent dinner guest. She also sang at his wedding in 1987. 

8. His childhood ambition was to become a baseball player or a detective.

9. He likes Korean barbecue meat, ramen, ice cream and watermelon. The list is said to be unchanged since his childhood.

10. He has been suffering from bowel illness since the age of 17.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was widely expected to minimise troubles in China’s foreign relations, leave the economy to the prime minister and focus on consolidating power in his first year, following in the footsteps of newly installed Chinese leaders.
Seldom does anyone get a second shot at becoming prime minister, especially after failing miserably the first time.
IN AN ambitious new road map for reforms in the next decade, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pledged to implement wide-ranging economic and social reforms, which would see a relaxation of the country's one-child policy and allow market forces to play a bigger role in the economy.
THE worldwide interest in the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, which will set the guidelines for the country's development, has been intense, and with much speculation about the outcome.
FOREIGN commentators and local bloggers regularly predict that China is heading for an economic and political crisis. But the country's leaders are in a strikingly confident mood.
Japan's Cabinet is set to endorse a Bill today aimed at setting up special zones where red tape will be loosened to promote business activities.
EARLY this month, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) members gathered in Indonesia's resort island of Bali to talk about integration of their economies.
WITH consumer spending expected to fall after Japan's sales tax goes up next April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is putting a five trillion yen (S$63.4billion) stimulus package in place and also removing a surcharge on corporate taxes to encourage companies to boost wages.
CHINA'S top leader Xi Jinping, declaring ties with Singapore to be "in excellent shape", proposed three new ways to take bilateral relations to a new high at his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
ON JULY 21, a sunny Sunday, Japanese citizens went to local schools and municipal offices to elect half of 242 members of the House of Councillors, Japan’s Upper House.
JAPAN'S ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is back in the driver's seat after scoring a convincing victory in Upper House elections that gave it full control of both Houses of Parliament for the first time in six years.
IF THERE is one word that characterises Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's first six months in office, it is Abenomics.
HAVING chalked up 9.9 per cent growth a year for over three decades, China's economy is showing clear signs of slowing down.
ASEAN and Japan are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their partnership this year.
Mr Shinzo Abe, making his second trip to Washington as Japan's Prime Minister, declared not only that he's back and that Japan is back but also that he would not let his country's status slip.
THE "China Dream" is a phrase that has appeared in plays and books, but it recently got an airing at the topmost echelon of power when new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping used it to rally the nation.
BEIJING - China's new leader, Mr Xi Jinping, is said to be planning to send a strong signal of his commitment to reform by making Shenzhen the first stop of a tour to southern Guangdong province that reportedly began yesterday.
TOKYO - Former prime minister Shinzo Abe is now guaranteed a second shot at the premiership, following his upset victory in the presidential election of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Milestones of China's President Xi Jinping

From personal secretary to president: A quick look at the highlights of Mr Xi's career

1979-1985 Worked as personal secretary to then-defence minister Geng Biao, before joining politics as deputy secretary and then secretary of Zhengding county in northern Hebei Province till 1985.
1985-2002 Rose through the ranks in Fujian province, from executive vice mayor of Xiamen city to provincial governor.
2002-2007 Appointed party secretary of coastal Zhejiang province.
March 2007 Appointed party secretary of Shanghai in a move to shore up the financial city in the aftermath of the sacking of its former party boss Chen Liangyu over corruption.
October 2007 Joined the newly formed Politburo Standing Committee at the 17th Party Congress as sixth-ranked member, signalling his rise as heir-apparent to then-president Hu Jintao. Mr Xi was ranked a spot ahead of former Liaoning party boss Li Keqiang, who is now the premier.
March 2008 Appointed China's vice-president, on top of his roles as president of the Central Party School and head of the Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
October 2010 Appointed vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which controls the military, confirming his status as the presumptive next Chinese leader.
November 2012 Succeeded then-president Hu Jintao as General Secretary of the CCP and Chairman of the CMC.
March 2013 Took over as China's president, completing the country’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
October 2013 Became the first visiting foreign leader to address the Indonesian parliament. He said China wants its territorial disputes in the South China Sea with several neighbouring countries to be handled peacefully with talks.
November 2013 Unveiled a comprehensive reform plan at his first policy summit, including the setting up of a national security commission that he is likely to head.

GRAPHIC BY DERRICK HO

10 things about Xi Jinping

1. Born in Beijing on June 15, 1953, Mr Xi Jinping is the son of revolutionary veteran Xi Zhongxun, one of the Communist Party's founding fathers who was purged from the post of vice-premier in 1962 and eventually imprisoned.

2. At age 15, Mr Xi was sent to work in the remote village of Liangjiahe in Shaanxi province for seven years during the Cultural Revolution.

3. He was among the first batch of students admitted to universities after the Cultural Revolution ended in 1978. He graduated from Tsinghua University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and from the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University in 2002 with a doctorate degree in Marxist theory and political education.

4. Mr Xi reportedly tried to join the Communist Party at least nine times but was rejected because of his father's issues. He finally gained entry in 1974.

5. He is married to Peng Liyuan, a well-known Chinese folk singer and a major-general in the People's Liberation Army. 

6. The couple have a daughter named Xi Mingze, who is reportedly studying at Harvard University.

7. The US state of Iowa holds a special place in Mr Xi's heart. In 1985, he visited the midwest state with an agricultural study delegation and was hosted by Thomas and Eleanor Dvorchak. In February 2012, he returned to Muscatine as China's vice-president and visited the couple. 

8. His hobbies are reading, swimming, and watching sports. He also likes the Hollywood movies The Godfather and Saving Private Ryan. 

9. Mr Xi was ranked the third most powerful person on Forbes list in 2013, behind Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama. 

10. Mr Xi rarely makes unguarded comments but on a trip to Mexico in 2009, he lashed out at China's critics that some say was due to his hosts siding with Britain and the US in calling for China to improve its human rights record. "Some foreigners with full stomachs and nothing better to do point fingers at us. But we don't export revolution, hunger or poverty, nor do we cause trouble for you. What else do you want?"