Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kept quiet Monday over President Donald Trump’s claim that he had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, but praised him and emphasised he did not deny doing so. Trump’s assertion Friday that Abe had nominated him for the honour and sent him a copy of the letter has raised questions and criticism in Japan.
Questioned in parliament, Abe praised Trump for his dealings with North Korea but said, “In light of the Nobel committee’s policy of not disclosing recommenders and nominees for 50 years, I decline to comment.” Neither the prime minister nor his spokesman denied Trump’s comment.
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“I never said I didn’t” nominate him, Abe said in response to a follow-up question by Yuichiro Tamaki, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party for the People.
Tamaki said in a tweet Monday that he was concerned such a nomination would “send the wrong message to North Korea and the rest of international society.” Junya Ogawa, another opposition lawmaker, cited various policies and actions by Trump that he said ran contrary to the spirit of the peace prize, calling the nomination “an embarrassment for Japan.”
In responding to Tamaki’s questions in parliament, Abe lauded Trump for meeting with Kim and working to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear programme and missile tests.
Trump had also addressed Japan’s concerns over past abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, Abe said, adding “he and the entire White House also actively cooperated in resolving the issue.” “I highly praise President Trump’s leadership,” Abe said.
Trump’s claim that Abe had sent him a “beautiful copy” of a letter sent to the Nobel committee could not be immediately verified. Nor could a report Sunday by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, citing unidentified government sources, that Abe had nominated Trump at the US president’s request.