After President Donald Trump claimed on Friday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Asahi newspaper reported that Abe did so at the request of the president himself.
The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.
The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, the Asahi said, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman acknowledged Trump’s remarks, told Reuters he “would refrain from commenting on the interaction between the two leaders.”
The White House “had no immediate comment,” the news outlet reported.
Newsweek reported that Abe cited the Nobel Prize convention which seals unsuccessful nominations for 50 years as the reason he would not comment on the matter.
The prime minister did say, however, that he will "continue to [offer] my utmost cooperation to President Trump to solve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues and the abduction issue, which is the most important…for Japan,”
The president has mentioned the honor numerous times, often referencing his predecessor.
Former President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
Trump took another opportunity to deride Obama’s honor on Friday, saying: "They gave it to Obama. He didn’t even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize. He said, 'Oh, what did I get it for?' With me, I probably will never get it."