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Japanese Catholics urge pope to send anti-nuclear message via South China Morning Post

Pontiff said to be planning trips to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, targets of devastating US nuclear attacks in the second world war that killed hundred of thousands

Japanese Catholics on Sunday urged Pope Francis to send an anti-nuclear message from Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he travels to the country later this year.

The Argentine pontiff said last Wednesday he would visit Japan in November, becoming the first pope to go there since John Paul nearly 40 years ago.

During his stay in the country, Francis reportedly plans to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pray for the victims of the 1945 nuclear attacks, which killed some 220,000 people instantly.

“I believe he will have sympathy for the movement to abolish nuclear arms,” said 77-year-old Keiko Ichikawa said after attending her first mass since the pope announced his trip to Japan, home to some 450,000 Roman Catholics. “I hope the pope’s visit will be an opportunity to encourage the movement.”

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According to local media, the pope is also considering visiting the Fukushima region, which was hit by a massive tsunami triggered by an earthquake in March 2011.

The high waves killed about 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

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