The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, looking at Pope Francis, delivering his speech in Tokyo. (Image via Kyodo News)

Japan, Vatican agree to realize a denuclearized world

As the only country whose cities were devastated by two atomic bombs, Japan understood the message brought by the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, Pope Francis. Therefore, welcoming Pope Francis on Monday, the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, said that Japan and the Vatican are “brothers in arms” in struggling for a denuclearized world.

Pope Francis came five years after Abe’s invitation in 2014 during his visit to the Vatican.

The statement by Shinzo Abe came a day after Pope Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities devastated by two atomic bombs during the WWII era. There, Pope Francis cried out that all nuclear weapons should be banished.

The same message was also reiterated by the Pope when meeting with the government officials and lawmakers in Tokyo.

Not only about nuclear but also Abe said that the Vatican and Japan will cooperate in upholding human rights, closing the gap between the rich and the poor, and maintaining the environment. The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were also included in the dialogue between the state leaders.

Before meeting with Abe, Pope Francis met with the survivors of the 2011 Fukushima tsunami that caused nuclear plant meltdown, considered to be the worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl incident. The Pope then conducted a mass in Tokyo Dome, attended by 50,000 Catholics.

The meeting between the Japanese PM and the Pope lasted for about 25 minutes. Japan’s Foreign Ministry revealed that the Pope also supported Japan’s effort in repatriating the Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea (N. Korea) in the 1970s – 1980s.

All along, Japan possesses nuclear weapons but relies on deterrence of the United States (U.S) nuclear umbrella. While the Chief Cabinet Secretary also Abe’s right-hand man, Yoshihide Suga, described the action as “realistic”, the Pope remained firm that it was not a rightful thing to do.