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What instability at the top means for Japan's alliance with the U.S.

A return to rotating leaders could prove costly

| Japan
Shinzo Abe, center, salutes during the fleet review of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, in October 2006: Abe passed security legislation that made collective self-defense legal.

Jeffrey Hornung is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corp.

Regardless of what you think about his policy achievements, for eight years, Shinzo Abe provided Japan with predictable leadership and a confident regional presence at a time of rising security challenges.

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