Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, bumps fists with U.S. President Donald Trump during a golf outing in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, in November 2017. (Provided by the Cabinet public relations office)

Does Prime Minister Shinzo Abe really think U.S. President Donald Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize?

Abe’s move to nominate Trump to the prestigious honor at the request of the U.S. government goes far beyond a diplomatic nicety. It should be called blatant sycophancy.

At a White House news conference, Trump revealed that Abe had nominated him for the prize due to his diplomatic efforts with North Korea.

Referring to the reasons for the nomination, Trump said, “Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan. They had alarms going off. You know that. Now, all of a sudden they feel good. They feel safe. I did that.”

According to Japanese government sources, the Trump administration "informally" asked Tokyo to nominate Trump after he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June, the first-ever summit between the two countries.

It is true that North Korea has restrained itself from nuclear tests and missile firings since the Trump-Kim meeting, which has eased tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

But the agreement between the two leaders is vague, and the prospects for the denuclearization of North Korea remain murky more than six months after the historic summit.

The Abe administration has argued that the security threat posed by Pyongyang’s arms programs has remained unchanged despite the meeting and has decided to introduce two Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense systems. It has also decided to purchase 105 additional F-35B stealth fighter jets from the United States.

While stressing the security threats Japan is facing at home, Abe has thanked Trump, saying tensions in the region have eased. This is too much opportunism.

Abe has been consistent in his quest to please Trump. It is still surprising that Abe has gone so far as to nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Think how his action will look to the international community.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, expressed his commitment to pursuing a “world without nuclear weapons” and thereby gave the world a renewed awareness of the power of ideals.

In stark contrast, Trump has been pursuing a narrow-minded “America First” agenda and withdrawn the United States from many important frameworks for international cooperation, including the Paris climate agreement to stem global warming. He is also setting out on a military buildup. It is hard to argue that Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

When the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that played an important role in the U.N. adoption of an agreement on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, was awarded the prize in 2017, Abe, despite being the leader of a country that suffered the devastation of nuclear arms attacks, did not even issue a statement.

Abe is clearly supporting Washington’s “peace by force” strategy.

During a Feb. 18 Diet session, Abe would neither confirm nor deny if he nominated Trump for the prize, citing the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s “policy to keep secret the names of nominees and those who nominated them for 50 years.” But the committee does not ban nominators from revealing their nominations.

Trump quoted Abe as saying, “I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan.”

If so, Abe should disclose the fact and explain the reasons to the public. If he cannot do so, he should not have claimed that he was acting on behalf of the entire nation.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 19