Kishida eyes meeting with pope during Europe trip

Jiji Press
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida waves before boarding a plane at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Friday.

Arrangements are being made for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican during his trip to Europe in early May, according to government sources.

If realized, it will be the first visit to the Vatican by a Japanese prime minister since Shinzo Abe’s trip in 2014.

Kishida has vowed to work toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. The prime minister is a representative of Hiroshima Prefecture, which was devastated by an atomic bomb in 1945. The pope called for the abolition of nuclear weapons during visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in November 2019.

Kishida wants to affirm cooperation with the pope for resolving issues related to nuclear weapons, according to the sources.

The prime minister left Tokyo Friday for a trip around Southeast Asia and Europe that will include summit meetings in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Italy and Britain through May 6.

During a scheduled meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Kishida is expected to sign a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement. In Britain, Kishida plans to deliver a speech in the City of London, a global financial hub, ahead of his talks with his British counterpart Boris Johnson.