By Motoko Rich
TOKYO — In the first visit to Japan by a pontiff in 38 years, Pope Francis on Monday edged close to calling for the renunciation of all nuclear power in a country that experienced the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl but has yet to determine a viable alternative for its energy needs.
A day after traveling to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the only places where atomic bombs have ever been used in war, the pope met in Tokyo on Monday with victims of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown that ravaged northeastern Japan.
Francis noted that the Catholic bishops of Japan had called for the shutdown of all nuclear plants in Japan after the 2011 disaster, in which waves from the tsunami overpowered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and set off catastrophic meltdowns in three reactors.
“As we think about the future of our common home, we need to realize that we cannot make purely selfish decisions,” the pope said on Monday, “and that we have a great responsibility to future generations.”