National | G20 Osaka Summit Special

Profiles of G20 leaders

The following are profiles of leaders of the participants making up the Group of 20 major economies. This year’s G20 Summit will take place in Osaka, on June 28 and 29.

Argentina

President Mauricio Macri

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KYODO

Macri is aiming for his second term in the presidential election expected in October, but is likely to face an uphill battle amid Argentina’s economic woes. Inflation was nearly 50 percent in 2018 and the country’s currency, the peso, has been heavily devalued, sapping households of spending power.

The 60-year-old leader is the son of a prominent Italian-born industrialist and was brought up in the family business. He studied civil engineering at university and served as a senior official in various construction concerns and other companies.

In 1991, he was kidnapped by rogue police officers and was held for nearly two weeks until his family paid his ransom, an experience that purportedly led him to pursue a career in politics.

Macri later became head of the Boca Juniors, one of the country’s most popular soccer teams, before being elected mayor of Buenos Aires in 2007. He has been president since 2015 and was the host of last year’s G20 Summit in the Argentine capital.

A big fan of Freddie Mercury, he has sometimes impersonated the late Queen singer.


Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

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KYODO

Morrison will arrive in Japan for the first time to attend the G20 Summit, having come to office last August and winning the country’s general election on May 18.

His Liberal Party and coalition partner National Party performed better than media predictions in the election to take the country’s conservative government into its third consecutive term.

Morrison campaigned on a policy of fiscally responsible action on climate change, rejecting proposals to increase renewable energy on the grounds it would damage mining exports and drive up electricity prices.

The 51-year-old became Australia’s seventh prime minister in 11 years after he replaced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Well-known for his nickname “ScoMo,” Morrison is a graduate of the University of New South Wales.

He is a Protestant and first met his wife Jenny when they were attending church as teenagers.


Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro

REUTERS / VIA KYODO
REUTERS / VIA KYODO

Retired military officer Bolsonaro took office in January, with a promise to crack down on crime and ease gun control laws so that ordinary people could defend themselves.

The 64-year-old politician is known for supporting national conservatism.

He also expressed skepticism about Chinese investment in Brazil during last year’s election campaign, much of which he was forced to sit out after being hospitalized by a life-threatening stab wound to the abdomen in September.

Hailing from Sao Paulo, he graduated from a military academy and joined a paratrooper brigade. He decided to pursue a political career after being disciplined for writing a column in a local magazine in 1986 advocating for increased military salaries.

He served as a lower house member for seven consecutive terms from 1991 before being elected president.

A Catholic with the middle name Messias, meaning “savior,” he has called the presidential post his mission from God.


Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

UPI / VIA KYODO
UPI / VIA KYODO

This will be Trudeau’s fifth G20 Summit after taking power following his Liberal Party’s victory in October 2015.

Trudeau was born in Ottawa on Christmas Day in 1971 to then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. From very early in his life, he has been in the public eye.

The 47-year-old graduated from McGill University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and continued on to complete a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of British Columbia. He then spent several years teaching French and math among other subjects.

After his younger brother died in an avalanche while skiing in 1998, Trudeau became involved in promoting avalanche safety.

The telegenic prime minister entered politics in 2007. He was elected leader of the Liberal Party in April 2013, and attracted support particularly from younger voters with his call for respecting diversity and ensuring fair economic opportunities.

He is married to Sophie Gregoire, a former TV and radio host. They have three children.


China

President Xi Jinping

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KYODO

All eyes will be on the meeting of Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in search of a breakthrough in their bitter trade dispute.

Since taking office in 2013, Xi has solidified power at home via his signature anti-corruption campaign and economic reforms. Many pundits consider him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, with his position strengthened by the elimination in 2018 of the two-term limit for the president.

Xi has pushed to increase China’s influence abroad through the “Belt and Road” infrastructure development initiative, which has drawn support from over 120 countries across three continents.

The 66-year-old has also sought to assert a stronger military presence in the resource-rich East and South China seas, a strategy that has inflamed tensions with neighbors, including Japan.

Xi is a son of late Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun, who served under then Premier Zhou Enlai, and his wife, Peng Liyuan, who was a famous folk singer for the People’s Liberation Army.

He enjoys sports such as soccer and swimming.


European Council

President Donald Tusk

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KYODO

The former prime minister of Poland has been at the helm of the European Union since 2014. His second and final term as president is set to end in November.

In his youth, he was an activist in Poland’s Solidarity movement, which became a driving force in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. He earned his living as a blue-collar worker for some years until the end of communist rule in Poland.

Tusk was first elected to Poland’s lower house in 1991 and served as prime minister from 2007 to 2014, during which Poland continued to maintain economic growth.

In 2014, Tusk became the first member from among the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004 to occupy one of the most important posts in Brussels. He was re-elected president of the European Council in 2017.

During the Ukraine crisis, he held a series of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and took a firm stance against Russia, while calling for EU unity.

The 62-year-old is known as an avid soccer fan.


European Commission

President Jean-Claude Juncker

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KYODO

Juncker, a 64-year-old former prime minister of Luxembourg, is known as one of the main architects of the Maastricht Treaty signed in 1992 that established the European Union and led to the creation of a common currency, the euro.

Juncker has been politically active from his youth, joining the Christian Social People’s Party, which has been a dominant force in Luxembourg politics, in 1974. He was first appointed to a government post at the age of 28 and swiftly rose through the ranks.

He served as Luxembourg prime minister for almost 20 years from 1995 before being elected to the presidency of the European Commission in 2014.

With his term set to end in October, Juncker recently said that one of his major achievements was to have helped keep Greece in the eurozone amid the European debt crisis, while one of his worst failures was to have kept silent ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum despite what he called “lies” told by campaigners promoting Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Juncker earned a master’s in law in 1979, but never practiced as a lawyer.


France

President Emmanuel Macron

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KYODO

Macron made history when he became the youngest French president in May 2017.

The 41-year-old former economy minister was the first president not to belong to either of the two major political forces that had shaped politics in postwar France.

This year’s G20 Summit will be the president’s first time in Japan since taking office.

Born to two doctors in the northern French city of Amiens in 1977, Macron has a background in philosophy and graduated from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in 2004.

The president polished his language skills working as an assistant editor of the works of philosopher Paul Ricoeur, after which he served as the economy minister in 2014. He eventually passed his signature legislation, the “Macron Law,” which targeted financial growth in the country by extending store opening hours to Sundays.

Macron expressed his determination to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral within five years after a devastating fire engulfed it on April 15, with various countries, including Japan, pledging support for its reconstruction.

He married his high school teacher Brigitte Macron, nee Trogneux, in 2007.


Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel

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KYODO

Assuming her post in November 2005, Merkel is the third-longest serving German chancellor since World War II, behind Helmut Kohl and Konrad Adenauer.

The 64-year-old, the country’s first female chancellor, was born in Hamburg in 1954 to a mother who taught English and Latin and a father who was a pastor in the Protestant Church. She grew up in East Germany and is fluent in Russian.

Merkel, trained as a physicist, worked at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin before entering politics in 1989.

She served an array of positions prior to becoming chancellor, including minister for women and youth, during which she emphasized the benefits of good early childhood education, as well as parental leave for both parents.

In October, Merkel announced that she would not seek re-election as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union and said she would step down as chancellor in 2021, bringing her 16 years in power to an end.

Merkel is passionate about sports, believing it can be a “real driving force for integration.” She has been married to her scientist husband Joachim Sauer since 1998.


India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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KYODO

Modi was sworn in for a second straight term in office in late May following his party’s landslide victory in the general election. He is the first prime minister of India to be born after India attained independence.

Facing slowing economic growth and high unemployment, Modi has pledged to increase infrastructure investment and improve living standards in regional areas.

Modi has been seeking to boost India’s engagement with East Asian nations under his “Act East” policy and has backed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for a rules-based, free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Abe and Modi have built a close relationship through a series of reciprocal visits. Last year, Modi became the first foreign leader to visit Abe’s vacation home near Mount Fuji.

Modi, a former tea seller, rose through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party and became prime minister in 2014. He was born to a poor family in a small town in Gujarat in western India. He completed his M.A. in political science at Gujarat University. He is known as “India’s most techno-savvy leader,” and is very active on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Indonesia

President Joko Widodo

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KYODO

Better known as “Jokowi,” the 58-year-old has been popular among the public as the first commoner to serve as president of Indonesia, born into the poor family of a carpenter.

His expected trip to Japan will follow his re-election in an April presidential race that will extend his term to 2024. He was first elected to lead the country of 260 million in 2014.

Born in Solo in Central Java province in 1961, Jokowi studied forestry at Gadjah Mada University and was successful in his furniture exporting business.

He was elected mayor of Solo in 2005 and governor of Jakarta in 2012, during which he quickly gained popularity by regularly visiting local communities, particularly poor areas, and spending time talking to residents about the city’s problems such as floods and transportation issues. He continued those activities after being elected president.

Riding on the success of the Asian Games last summer, the president has expressed his willingness to host the Summer Olympics in 2032 as the first Southeast Asian country to do so.

He likes riding motorcycles and listening to heavy metal music.


Italy

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte

REUTERS / VIA KYODO
REUTERS / VIA KYODO

Before being sworn in as prime minister of Italy in June 2018, Conte was a law professor with no previous political experience.

The 54-year-old, who has a reputation as a sharp dresser, was picked by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the Northern League, which form the current ruling coalition that ended a months-long political vacuum after no single party won a majority in the last general election.

Under his government, Italy became in March the first Group of Seven economy to join Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative.

In a meeting the following month in Italy, which will hold the G20 presidency in 2021, he agreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the need for high-quality infrastructure that can achieve both economic growth and fiscal sustainability.

Conte was born in a town of some 400 residents in Italy’s southern region of Puglia. The expert in civil law graduated from Sapienza University of Rome. He later ran a law firm, while teaching at some universities.


Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

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KYODO

Abe, who in November is likely to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, hopes to exhibit his leadership skills and ability to coordinate a diverse group of G20 leaders ahead of an Upper House election this summer.

Since his return to power in 2012 touting his Abenomics policy mix, the 64-year-old, who was born into an establishment political family, has been working on various economic reforms to pull Japan out of chronic deflation.

Positioning himself as U.S. President Donald Trump’s closest ally among world leaders, the two have played numerous rounds of golf together. During Trump’s state visit to Japan in late May, he made efforts to entertain the U.S. leader while broaching difficult issues such as bilateral trade and North Korea.

In 2006, Abe became Japan’s youngest prime minister in the postwar era but stepped down after a year due to health problems.

He is Japan’s first prime minister born after WWII. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was also prime minister from 1957 to 1960.


Mexico

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

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KYODO

Lopez Obrador secured victory in Mexico’s presidential election last year in his third attempt, supported by voters frustrated with corruption-tainted establishment parties.

The 65-year-old joined the then-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1976 before moving to the Party of the Democratic Revolution.

The former Mexico City mayor became president after launching the National Regeneration Movement, also known by its Spanish acronym MORENA, following his defeat in the 2012 presidential election. He has vowed to eradicate corruption and transform Mexico.

Obrador, known for his hardline stance against the United States, is tasked with dealing with the issues of illegal immigrants and free trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Born in Macuspana in the southern state of Tabasco in 1953, the president, widely called by his initials “AMLO,” is a baseball fan. He reveres Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia, the former president and national hero.

The president has said he will not attend the G20 Summit.


Russia

President Vladimir Putin

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KYODO

Putin, in his fourth term as president, is a familiar face among world leaders. The 66-year-old former KGB agent has dominated Russia’s political scene since 2000 and some call him a “tsar.”

Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has confronted the United States and European countries in recent years that have imposed crippling economic sanctions following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, with the focus on any progress in bilateral negotiations to conclude a postwar peace treaty.

Putin is also expected to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Putin is known as a dog lover and a judoka who does not hide his appreciation for the Japanese sport. He was born in what is now St. Petersburg in Russia, and earned his law degree at Leningrad State University.


Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

REUTERS / VIA KYODO
REUTERS / VIA KYODO

Son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 33-year-old Mohammed bin Salman is widely considered to be the power behind the throne, having been elevated to heir presumptive in 2017. He will attend the G20 Summit in place of the king, as he did last year.

The crown prince, known as MBS, has pushed to liberalize the conservative Muslim nation, including removing a ban on female drivers and limiting the powers of the religious police that had enforced strict morality codes.

MBS has also sought to diversify the economy past its huge, but finite, oil reserves such as by attracting investment, but those efforts hit a snag due to a delay in plans to take state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco public.

The crown prince serves concurrently as deputy prime minister and defense minister of Saudi Arabia, which will host the G20 Summit next year. He is known as a fan of Japanese manga and anime.

He graduated from King Saud University with a B.A. in law. Unlike other Saudi royals, he did not receive an education in the West.


South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

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KYODO

Ramaphosa’s participation in this year’s summit will come about a month after he was elected to his first full term by the country’s National Assembly.

The 66-year-old first took office last year after former President Jacob Zuma resigned.

Ramaphosa first came to public attention when he appeared alongside anti-apartheid icon and later President Nelson Mandela when he was making his first public speech in 1990 upon his release from prison.

An anti-apartheid activist himself, Ramaphosa was elected as secretary general of the African National Congress, the country’s current ruling party, in 1991.

Ramaphosa retired from politics in 1997 and became a director of an investment company. He was listed as one of the wealthiest people in Africa by Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of $450 million as of 2015. He returned to politics in 2012.

After the G20 Summit, Ramaphosa is expected to return to Japan in August for the seventh round of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VII), to be held in Yokohama.


South Korea

President Moon Jae-in

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KYODO

The 66-year-old has been seeking to establish a role as a mediator in the nuclear standoff between the United States and North Korea. But that has been put to the test following the breakdown of talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.

Moon was born on Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang province to poor parents who fled North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice agreement.

He was arrested twice while attending university, including in 1975 for taking part in protests against the dictatorship of then-President Park Chung-hee.

Before entering politics, Moon served as a human rights lawyer, running a law office in Busan with Roh Moo-hyun, who also later became president.

Moon was sworn in as president in May 2017 for a five-year term after his predecessor Park Geun-hye was impeached over a corruption scandal.

His achievements during the past two years in office include improvement in inter-Korean relations, having held talks with Kim three times since last year. But South Korea’s ties with Japan have become strained over various matters, including wartime compensation issues.


Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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KYODO

Erdogan, a soccer player-turned-politician, has led the country for more than 15 years since becoming prime minister in 2003. In 2014, he assumed the presidency, which before was a mostly ceremonial role.

He has cemented his power since a failed coup by a faction of the military in July 2016. Following the incident, the government instituted a state of emergency from July 2016 to July 2018. On April 16, 2017, a constitutional referendum was held and resulted in voters approving constitutional amendments changing Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system. The amendments went into full effect following the presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2018, when Erdogan was re-elected for another five-year term, with new executive powers endorsed in the referendum.

Hailing from Istanbul, Erdogan is known as a devout Muslim who does not drink or smoke.

Erdogan has held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a number of times. He has traveled to Japan several times, including a private visit to watch the 2002 FIFA World Cup.


United Kingdom

Prime Minister Theresa May

GETTY IMAGES / VIA KYODO
GETTY IMAGES / VIA KYODO

Following the historic referendum to leave the European Union, May took over as the country’s second female prime minister in 2016 after Margaret Thatcher.

But the 62-year-old resigned as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7 after having repeatedly failed to secure parliamentary approval for her Brexit deal. She will, however, remain as prime minister until her successor is selected, possibly by the end of July.

Before being elected to Parliament in 1997, May worked at the Bank of England for six years and later became head of the European Affairs Unit of the Association for Payment Clearing Services.

She went to both state-run and private schools before studying geography at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University, where she met her husband Philip May through an introduction by the future Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

When former Prime Minister David Cameron took power in 2010, she was appointed home secretary and in that role advocated tighter restrictions on immigration. She was the longest-serving home secretary for over 60 years.

Known as a fashion-conscious leader, she also loves cricket and cooking.


United States

President Donald Trump

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KYODO

The 73-year-old president has pursued an “America First” foreign policy since taking office in January 2017.

A real estate developer and television personality once seen as a long-shot Republican candidate for president, Trump is now setting his sights on re-election amid a trade war with China, stalled negotiations on North Korean denuclearization and tensions with Iran over its nuclear deal.

Prior to becoming president, Trump, who took control of his father’s business in 1971, also hosted reality TV show “The Apprentice,” with his catchphrase being “You’re fired.”

The president is an avid golfer who often uses the game to conduct business. He is a non-smoker who loves fast food, but abstains from alcohol, preferring to drink Diet Coke.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has developed a personal rapport with Trump, with the two frequently holding talks and playing golf. Trump will be visiting Japan again after his trip as a state guest in May.


Invited guests and international organizations

  • Netherlands
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Vietnam
  • ASEAN President (Thailand)
  • AU President (Egypt)
  • Chile (APEC President)
  • Senegal (NEPAD President)
  • United Nations (U.N.)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • World Bank
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Financial Stability Board (FSB)
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

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