Pope Francis is coming to Thailand and Japan to deliver messages to the two countries where Catholicism does not grow enough. (Image via ABC News - Go.com)
Pope Francis goes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for denuclearization campaignAs a part of his seven-day denuclearization tour from Thailand to Japan, Pope Francis is visiting the site most iconic in the WWII era where two atomic bombs were dropped, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On the upcoming Tuesday, Pope Francis, becoming the Pope since 2013, is leaving for Thailand for his 32nd world tour. And, he is expected to arrive in Japan after an 11-and-a-half-hour long flight. The Pope’s visit to both countries is signaling encouragement for the tiny Catholic communities in Thailand and Japan.
For your record, Catholic populations in Japan and Thailand are only around 536,000 and 389,000 respectively, making less than one percent in each country. Even if those populations are combined, it is less than the number of people the Pope attracted when visiting a country.
Arriving in Thailand, Pope Francis is set to meet with the leader of Buddhists in Thailand, Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, and King Maha Vajiralongkorn. For his interpreter, Pope Francis will be accompanied by his cousin, Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, who has been serving in Thailand for more than 50 years.
During his four-day stay in Thailand, Pope Francis will deliver a message for the eradication of human trafficking and sex tourism. In 2019, the human trafficking rate in Thailand jumped to its highest point.
In Japan, Pope Francis will deliver a message calling for the total ban of a nuclear weapon. About 400,000 people died due to nuclear radiation when the United States (U.S) dropped the nuke on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August 1945.
For Pope Francis, the nuclear weapon should not be kept even for deterrence.
The Pope is scheduled to meet with the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents, pray for them, and deliver the loud and clear message about the nuclear ban. Later on, Pope Francis will be visiting Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima.
In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant melted down due to the tsunami and earthquake, infecting hundreds of thousands of people. After the incident, Japan's Catholic Bishops Conference formally asked the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, to abolish any nuclear power plant and oppose Abe’s move to revise Japan’s post-war pacifism stance.
Pope Francis is also scheduled to meet with the descendants of the “underground Japanese Christians” who adhere to their faith even in times of past persecution.
In 1549, Christianity was introduced to Japan, to be banned later in 1614. The Japanese Christians were persecuted by making them choose between martyrdom or exile. Fortunately, the ban was lifted in 1873.