Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize — but he did so at the U.S. government’s prompting, according to a Sunday report in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun.
Government sources told Asahi, one of Japan’s oldest and largest national newspapers, that Abe nominated Trump last fall for the peace prize at the “behest of Washington.” The U.S. had “informally” asked Japan to nominate Trump for the accolade following the president’s landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
Speaking at the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Trump claimed Abe had given him “the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize.”
“I have nominated you, respectfully on behalf of Japan, I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize,” Trump said, apparently quoting the prime minister.
Trump said he’d thanked Abe for the nomination but added that he did not expect to ever win the prize — even though, he noted, “they gave it” to former President Barack Obama just shortly after Obama had taken office
“[Obama] didn’t even know what he got it for. He was [in office] for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize,” Trump said. “He said, ‘Oh, what did I get it for?’ With me, I probably will never get it.”
Abe declined on Monday to comment on Trump’s peace prize claim but he “did not deny the assertion,” The Japan Times reported.
“I’m not saying [the claim] is untrue,” Abe reportedly told lawmakers during a budget committee meeting. The prime minister went on to praise Trump’s efforts at brokering peace in the Korean peninsula.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in an earlier statement it “would refrain from commenting on the interaction between the two leaders.” The Japanese Embassy in Washington told Kyodo News that there would be no comment.
Trump was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 and 2018, but both documents were determined to have been “forged.” A spokesman for the Norwegian Nobel Committee told The Washington Post last year that the same person is believed to have stolen the identity of a qualified nominator to submit Trump’s name.
This story has been updated with Abe’s remarks.