Japanese PM in a fix: One Trump question too hard to answer

February 19, 2019
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Did Japanese PM Shinzo Abe nominate President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize in advance of the Jan. 31 deadline? Abe isn’t saying, though he wasn’t entirely silent on the topic.

He was asked about it in Parliament Monday, days after Trump asserted that Abe nominated him and had given him “the most beautiful copy” of the five-page document; on Sunday, the Japanese paper Asahi reported Abe’s nomination came at the request of the US government.

When questioned by an opposition lawmaker about it, the AP reports Abe spoke positively about Trump’s work in opening talks with North Korea and said he “highly praise[s]” Trump’s leadership, but said, “In light of the Nobel committee’s policy of not disclosing recommenders and nominees for 50 years, I decline to comment.”

Responding to a follow-up question, Abe offered this: “I never said I didn’t” nominate him. As for why his potentially doing so is a hot topic in Japan, the Washington Post gives historical background: Japan has for decades clamored for the return of no less than a dozen citizens it claims North Korea abducted in the ’70s and ’80s.

“Without progress on that issue, or indeed actual progress on convincing North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons, Abe risks domestic criticism for at best acting prematurely by nominating Trump,” per the Post. The New York Times reports Abe has a history of trying to “curry favor” with Trump, and outlines that history here. A rep for South Korea’s leader was asked if President Moon Jae-in submitted Trump’s name; the rep said he didn’t believe so, but “it’s President Moon’s thinking that he fully deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.” (Read more Shinzo Abe stories.)

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