Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined on Monday to comment on a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that he'd nominated the American leader for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but did not deny the assertion, instead praising Trump's efforts to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Abe and his chief spokesman declined to say if the PM nominated the US President for the prize.
"However, President Moon has been emphasizing how President Trump has made a huge contribution to bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula through summit talks with North Korea, and how his leadership and determination played a decisive role in settling a new atmosphere of peace on the Korean Peninsula", the spokesman said.
In a speech on border security in the White House's Rose Garden on Friday, Trump said Abe had shown him a copy of a five-page letter he sent to "the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize".
Neither the Prime Minister nor his spokesman denied Mr Trump's comment. Nor could a report Sunday by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, citing unidentified government sources, that Abe had nominated Trump at the USA president's request.
Trump was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 and 2018, but both documents were determined to have been "forged".
Abe has tried to build a close relationship with Trump, partly because of his aspiration to keep the US committed to the defense of Japan and its allies from the North Korean nuclear and missile threat. There are 304 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019, the highest number ever, according to the organization.
Buhari, ruling party hold emergency meeting over election delay
He said: "Serious inconveniences has been caused, Nigerians have been subjected to rude shock and I fell extremely cold". Nigeria's main opposition party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP ), said it was a "direct call for jungle justice".
Abe praised Trump on Monday in a lower house budget committee meeting. Japan was forced to accept bilateral trade talks with the USA after Trump threatened tariffs on its vital auto industry.
The Japanese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
Mr. Abe personally has a large political stake in making progress on resolving the abductions issue with North Korea, an important issue for his nationalist political base.
Trump noted on Friday that "they gave it to Obama".
The surprising anecdote came as he hailed Pyongyang's "tremendous" economic potential and his "great relationship" with Kim ahead of a second scheduled summit between the two leaders late next week. The president's comments Friday drew speculation that South Korean President Moon Jae-in might have been the one who nominated the president. "I said "thank you".
Nobel prizes are usually announced in October but awarded annually on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, who gives his name to the awards. The prize is awarded on December 10, in Oslo, Norway.