Japan: Abe Silent on Whether He Backed Trump for Nobel Prize

US President Donald Trump listens during a joint news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

US President Donald Trump listens during a joint news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

Abe's remarks followed Trump's surprising claim Friday that Japan's prime minister had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work toward easing tensions with North Korea past year.

Mr Trump said Friday that Mr Abe had sent a five-page letter to the Nobel committee, adding that "Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most lovely copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize".

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".

On Sunday, the daily Asahi Shimbun reported that Abe had nominated Trump for the prize after the US government sounded the Japanese leader out over a possible nomination, citing an unnamed government source.

Abe has sought to build rapport with Mr Trump, partly as Japan is struggling to make substantial progress in efforts to resolve the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals. The Nobel committee has similarly not responded to the president's comments. "I never said I didn't [nominate Trump]".

"I'm not saying it's untrue", Abe told a Budget Committee session of the Lower House.

Trump noted on Friday that "they gave it to Obama".

Abe praised Trump for his diplomacy with North Korea and helping to protect Japan, which relies on the US military for its defense. I'll probably never get it.

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The request came months after the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore on June 12, according to the newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

'No Nobel Peace Prize ever elicited more attention than the 2009 prize to Barack Obama, ' Lundestad wrote in his memoir.

The Nobel Foundation's website says a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize may be submitted by any person who meets the nomination criteria, which includes current heads of states.

Abe's reported nomination of Trump, if true, may have been based on his pragmatic view of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The deadline each year for nominations is midnight, January 31.

The meeting took place at a hotel in Singapore, and marked the first face-to-face meeting between a North Korean leader and US President. The president's comments Friday drew speculation that South Korean President Moon Jae-in might have been the one who nominated the president, but his spokesman said he had not.

"The nuclear, missile and abduction issues have not been resolved at all".

The Nobel committee chooses the recipient of the prize in early October by a majority vote. The prize is awarded on December 10, in Oslo, Norway.

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