Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday declined to comment on US President Donald Trump’s claims that he has nominated the American leader for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but instead praised Trumps efforts to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis.
“I’m not saying (the claim) is untrue,” The Japan Times quoted Abe as saying to a Budget Committee session of the Lower House of Parliament.
“The Nobel committee won’t reveal who nominated (someone for a prize) or those who were nominated for fifty years. In accordance with this policy, I’d like to refrain from commenting,” he added.
Abe however, emphasised that Trump has worked bravely in resolving the nuclear problem and missiles from North Korea.
He also highlighted that Trump was actively collaborating to resolve the issue of kidnappings of Japanese citizens decades ago by the Pyongyang regime and whose resolution is one of the main priorities of Abe’s government.
Abe’s remarks followed Trump’s surprising claim on 15 February that the Japanese leader had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward easing tensions with North Korea last year.
On Sunday, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun daily reported that Abe had nominated Trump for the prize after the US government had sounded the Japanese leader out over a possible nomination.
According to Nobel rules, “neither the names of nominators nor of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize may be divulged until 50 years have elapsed”.
This year, there are 304 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, out of which 219 are individuals and 85 are organisations, the Nobel Committee has said. The submission deadline was 31 January.
According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo and Washington are preparing a new visit from Trump to the Japanese capital between 26 and 28 May to hold a summit with Abe and meet with Crown Prince Naruhito who will become Emperor at the beginning of the same month.
If the visit does take place, it would make Trump the first foreign leader to hold an official meeting with the new Emperor of Japan following the abdication from the Chrysanthemum Throne of Naruhito’s father, Emperor Akihito, an event scheduled for 30 April.