The chief of the World Trade Organization has heaped praise on Japan for its leadership role in forging ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership even after the United States quit the free trade pact. “Any movement that goes in the direction of trade liberalization or the reduction of distortions in global trade is a good movement, and I’m supportive of that”, Roberto Azevedo said in an exclusive interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo on May 22. “If Japan were not doing anything, I doubt that this initiative would still be moving forward”, the director-general of the WTO stated. “I think there are not many countries in the world that can lead, that can drive forces, that can mobilize forces in the direction that we need at this point in time. Japan is one of those countries”.