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Noah Smith

Japan Rises as a Free-Trade Leader as the U.S. Sinks

The nation is pursuing America's traditional agenda, though the results will be different.
An opening.

An opening.

Photographer: Ron Sachs/Bloomberg

Back in the 1980s or 1990s, few would have predicted that Japan would become the standard-bearer of free trade. This is, after all, the country that once tried to ban foreign-made skis by claiming that Japanese snow was different from snow in other countries.

How times have changed. As the U.S. sinks into protectionism, the Land of the Rising Sun is one of the few countries still pushing for trade agreements. Japan recently made a free-trade dealt with the European Union, and is trying to keep the Trans-Pacific Partnership alive even after the U.S. exited the deal.