Is Nominating Trump for Nobel Peace Prize Part of Japan’s Plan?
A good working relationship with the United States is essential for Shinzo Abe to realize his other ambitions, too.
Japan wants talks with North Korea, and its prime minister thinks Donald Trump can help.
On 3 May, North Korea, a nuclear power, off its east coast, uncomfortably close to neighboring Japan. It is North Korea has shot ballistic missiles over, near or into Japanese territory in recent years.
After the most recent test, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called US President Donald Trump – whom he had recently – to discuss his intent to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for “unconditional” denuclearization talks.
Abe’s call to Trump comes several months after Abe apparently nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize in February for . The recommendation was unexpected, given Trump’s aggressive “America first” foreign policy and disdain for multilateral international cooperation. After US talks with North Korea , a Nobel nod seemed wholly unwarranted.
While Prime Minister Abe has his reasoning for the nomination, a in Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported that the U.S. asked Japan to put Trump’s name forward. Trump has that Abe nominated him in a “beautiful” five-page letter.
Other world leaders might have turned down that request. But Abe needs US support to achieve many economic, political and foreign policy goals. From my perspective as a , nominating Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize is, for Abe, more sensible than it might seem.
Japan and North Korea
Trump’s unexpected decision last year to engage in discussions with Kim aligns much more closely with the diplomatic goals of and South Korea – which say their goal is maintaining stability in the Asia region – than with Japan, which has taken a hardline stance against the North Korean regime.
Beyond wanting to protect Japan from North Korean military aggression, Abe has another big demand for the Kim regime. He hopes to force North Korea to return the remaining 12 Japanese citizens believed to have been between 1977 and 1983.
In 2002, North Korea officially admitted to abducting 13 Japanese citizens and, in an effort to restore good faith with Japan, agreed to return five of them temporarily – provided they were forced to return to North Korea.
However, Abe, who was then deputy prime minister, ensured that the detained Japanese citizens , breaking his government’s agreement with North Korea. Ever since, North Korea has either denied that it still is detaining the remaining Japanese prisoners or claims that those in North Korea have since died.
Abe assumes they are alive and is eager to get them back – and show to his electorate he has the clout to do so.
This is where Trump comes in.
Trump’s dialogue with Kim Jong Un, which may be restored in a , could give Japan the opportunity to push its case. To get Trump to put it high up on the negotiating agenda, Abe needs to be on the U.S. president’s good side.
‘Abenomics’ and Japan’s Waning Global Role
A good working relationship with the United States is essential for Abe to realize his other ambitions, too.
Japan, once the world’s second-largest economy, has an aging population and entrenched deflation. Abe has a domestic economic strategy – dubbed “” – to spur revitalization, but the United States, as Japan’s largest trade surplus partner, is critical to keeping the Japanese economy afloat.
So Abe desperately needs to stay in the good graces of the United States, which means, right now, getting on the good side of Donald Trump.
Abe wants to amend the Japanese Constitution, which was drafted by the United States to prohibit the defeated country from having a standing army, to strengthen Japan’s domestic security forces. Trump has encouraged Japan to , citing its need to .
Abe’s effort to expand Japan’s military role may have something to do with North Korea. But the prime minister also wants to raise Japan’s profile as a global power.
Recognizing how many of his political goals depend on an unpredictable U.S. president, Abe has worked hard to . He has played frequent , invited him to meet the country’s – and, yes, even nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
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