0756 GMT February 26, 2020
Nuclear disarmament has been a key theme of the pope’s trip to Japan, a country haunted by the memory of the two attacks that ended World War II, Reuters wrote.
“(I) invite all persons of good will to encourage and promote every necessary means of dissuasion so that the destruction generated by atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never take place again in human history,” Francis told dignitaries including Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe said Japan was committed to a world free of nuclear weapons.
Francis said dialogue was “the only weapon worthy of man and capable of ensuring lasting peace.”
Francis backs a UN treaty aiming to ban nuclear weapons and says even their possession for the purpose of deterrence is immoral.
Nuclear devastation was also a topic of the pope’s meeting on Monday with Emperor Naruhito.
A palace spokesman said Francis had told Naruhito that he recalled as a nine-year-old boy in Argentina how his parents had wept on hearing of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how this had left a lasting impression on him.
Francis, who turns 83 next month, also expressed concern on Monday about future energy sources as he comforted victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, noting a call by Japan’s Catholic bishops to abolish nuclear power outright.
Around 18,000 people died or were classified missing after a massive earthquake set off a tsunami – in some places 30 meters high – destroying a wide swath of Japan’s northeastern coast and triggering a nuclear meltdown at the plant.
Francis ends his four-day trip to Japan today.