The Latest: Pope says parents cried over atom bombings
TOKYO – The Latest on Pope Francis’ visit to Japan (all times local):
Pope Francis has told Japanese Emperor Naruhito that he remembers seeing his parents cry over the news of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago.
The pope traveled on Sunday to the two Japanese cities, where he urged world powers to renounce their nuclear arsenals and declared the use and possession of atomic bombs an “immoral” crime.
Palace officials say the pope told the emperor on Monday that he recalled the memory of his parent’s sorrow when he addressed survivors of the atomic bombings in the two cities.
Naruhito told Francis that he has high respect for the pope’s efforts on behalf of world peace and people’s happiness.
The emperor is a symbol of the nation and has no direct political power.
Japan says it seeks a nuclear-free world but still depends on U.S. nuclear deterrence because of the worsening security environment in the region.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made the comments Monday, a day after Pope Francis demanded in Nagasaki and Hiroshima that world powers renounce their nuclear arsenals and declared that the use and possession of atomic bombs was “immoral.”
Suga said nuclear deterrence is the foundation of Japan’s national security, and that its dependence on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and even strengthening it, is “realistic and appropriate.”
Survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki say they are frustrated and saddened by Japan’s lack of leadership in seeking a nuclear weapons ban despite the suffering of its own people.
A former Japanese professional boxer who spent 48 years in prison for murders he says he did not commit was among some 50,000 people greeting Pope Francis as he entered Tokyo Dome stadium to celebrate Mass on Monday.
Iwao Hakamada, who converted to Catholicism during his decades on death row, was released in 2014 because of new DNA evidence. He has become a symbol of a movement to oppose the death penalty in Japan. A higher court reversed the lower court decision, and his case is now before the Supreme Court.
Francis decreed the death penalty “inadmissible” last year, in a change to the Catholic teachings called Catechism.
Pope Francis is denouncing what he called an “epidemic” of bullying that is tormenting young people in Japan and elsewhere.
Francis told Japanese students Monday that deep down, “bullies are afraid, and they cover their fear by showing strength.”
Francis was responding to testimony from three students who recounted the pressures they face in a hyper-competitive society, their feelings of inadequacy and the cruelty they sometimes face from their classmates that sometimes drives young people to suicide.
One, a Filipino, said he had been tormented by a bully because he was a foreigner.
Francis told them: “We must all unite against this culture of bullying and learn to say ‘Enough!’ It is an epidemic, and together you can find the best medicine to treat it.”
Pope Francis has met with victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and called for the world to rethink its reliance on nuclear power.
Francis recalled Monday that Japan’s Catholic bishops called for the abolition of nuclear power plants in the aftermath of the “triple disaster,” in which three Fukushima reactors melted down after an earthquake triggered a tsunami.
The meltdown coated the area in radioactive fallout and at one point forced the displacement of 160,000 people. Nine years later more than 40,000 people still can’t return home.
Francis didn’t make the call to abolish nuclear power in his speech before victims. But he made clear that “important decisions will have to be made about the use of natural resources, and future energy sources in particular.”
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