Japan's government says it will stick to its policy of not possessing nuclear weapons, after U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump said he would be open to the idea of Japan and South Korea having their own atomic arsenals.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that the country's "three principles of not owning, making or allowing nuclear weapons remain an important basic policy of the government."

Trump said in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday that asking Japan and South Korea to pay more for their own defense "could mean nuclear."

He said the issue "at some point is something that we have to talk about."

A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said he had no comment on Trump's remark.