CBS News

It's been known for a couple weeks now, that Shinzo Abe is going to resign as Prime Minister of Japan due to health issues. He is being succeeded by his Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga. Shinzo Abe came into office attempting to end the stagnation of Japan. His main policies have been to essentially run monetary stimulus and budget deficits ad infinitum to stimulate Japan's economy. This has had mixed success and I wouldn't characterize his stimulus as anything extraordinary. I'd actually argue he's not going far enough. On foreign policy, Abe gradually loosened restrictions surrounding JSDF, continued to build stronger ties with local allies to contain China, even heralding a new chapter in Japan-India relations. On the other hand, his rule has seen a souring of relations with South Korea, rekindled nationalist voices within Japan, and rather than reforming the economy, has doubled down on its aging bureaucracy.

All in all, Shinzo Abe has been a responsible and stable steward of Japan in the eyes of his Western allies. His departure leaves a lot of question marks. Shinzo Abe is easily the longest serving Prime Minister in recent history, this is normally a job with very high turn over. Most PMs only last a year or less.

The current trajectory of Japan's foreign policy is unlikely to change, I find it possible that the energy behind it will disappear. Internal intrigue, COVID, and other domestic concerns will likely be Suga's top priorities in the next year or two, if he lasts that long. The U.S. - Japan alliance is not in danger, but now, United States will have to pick up the slack in the Pacific to build the alliances to contain China.