In Japan, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with Tokyo. He will also meet with Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The most recent visit of a Pope to Japan was in 1981 when St John Paul II also visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The October issue of the Salesian Bulletin of Japan (Don Bosco no Kaze, no. 23) helps the broader Salesian family in Japan (with numerous Past Pupils - non-Christians) to understand who the Pope is, and carries a brief, lively presentation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio - Pope Francis.
In the meantime, the Catholic community seizes any opportunity to link to their fellow citizens through the mainstream media as well. A simple and passionate article by Fr Nakamaro Abe, SDB, was recently published in the Opinion column of the Nishi Nippon online edition. Fr Abe presents the Pope and the meaning of his visit to civil society, an audience that is not very familiar either with the specific religion or with the role of the Pope.
Pope Francis is introduced as the 'first disciple of Jesus' and Christian leader of 'one-third of the world's population as the Catholic 'care-taker'. Then St Francis of Assisi is introduced - since his name was taken by the current Pope as an inspiration for 'nurturing life, fighting the suppression of human dignity due to economic disparity and understanding each person as an important partner.'
Also, this year is 470 years since St Francis Xavier, himself a member of the Society of Jesus, introduced Christianity to Japan. And Fr Abe also notes the episode when young Bergoglio, after meeting with then General Pedro Arrupe, was about to volunteer to be a missionary in Japan.
Fr Abe concludes his short presentation of the Pontiff's visit to Japan: 'A Japanese watch shines on the Pope's left wrist. Our future will be one step closer to peace if we can acquire the same attitude as the Pope who accompanies us by believing in the potential of our neighbours - our partners.'