Japanese Abe decline comment on Trump Peace Prize nomination

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined Monday to say if he had nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, though he also emphasized he did not deny doing so.

Trump's assertion Friday that Abe had nominated him for the honor and sent him a copy of the letter has raised criticism in Japan.

Questioned in parliament about Trump's claim that he had done so, Abe 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.

"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 given the lack of progress on various issues with North Korea that he was concerned such a nomination would "send the wrong message to North Korea and the rest of international society."

In responding to Tamaki's questions in parliament, Abe praised Trump, saying he "has been decisively responding toward resolving North Korea's nuclear and missile problems, and last year he held historic U.S.-North Korea summit talks."

Abe added that Trump had also passed on to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Japan's own concerns about past abductions of Japanese citizens by the North, saying "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.

The government's top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, echoed Abe's remarks in refusing further comment.

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