Donald Trump said Friday that Hillary Clinton is lying when she says he wants Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons arsenals. But less than two months ago, the billionaire himself suggested the U.S. would be "better off" if the two countries could defend themselves.
"I watched her last night and she lies so much and she was saying last night, 'Donald Trump wants to see Japan get nuclear weapons. He wants to see South Korea arm themselves and get nuclear weapons,'" Trump said of Clinton during an afternoon rally in Fresno, Calif.
"I never said that," he told the crowd.
But in late March, Trump told the New York Times he would consider allowing South Korea and Japan to develop their own nuclear warheads so the U.S. could reduce its military presence in both countries.
"Unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now," he said. "Would I rather have North Korea have [nuclear weapons] with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that's the case."
"If they're attacked," he said of both countries, "we have to come totally to their defense. And that is a — that's a real problem."
Trump repeated the suggestion less than a week later during a televised town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"You have so many countries already — China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia — you have so many countries right now that have them," Trump said. "Now, wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?"
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga swiftly rejected Trump's suggestion, claiming his country's opposition to owning or developing nuclear weapons will "remain an important basic policy of the [Japanese] government."