Pope Benedict has praised Japan's efforts to build peace in the world and support for political solutions to avoid the proliferation of nuclear arms.
In his address to Hidekazu Yamaguchi, the new Japanese ambassador to the Holy See on Saturday, the Pope highlighted Japan's important contribution "to the spread of peace, democracy and human rights in the Far East and beyond, especially in developing countries". He likewise expressed the Holy See's satisfaction at the "financing of development and other forms of assistance" practiced by Japan.
"Efforts to construct the unity of the human family through international co-operation will help build a global economy in which all the world comes to occupy its rightful place and can enjoy, as never before, the earth's resources", said the Pope. In this context, he encouraged the Japanese government "to continue its policies of co-operation and development, particularly in areas that most affect the poorest and weakest".
Going on then to recall that this year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of "the tragic atomic bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki", Benedict XVI said "this tragedy is an insistent reminder to us of the need to persevere in efforts to promote disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear arms. Nuclear arms continue to be an important concern; their possession and the risk of their possible use increase tension and mistrust in many parts of the world. Your country", he told the ambassador, "should be cited as an example because of its constant support for political solutions to avoid the
proliferation of nuclear arms, and for efforts to ensure that war is not considered a way of resolving conflicts between nations and peoples".
"The Holy See", he concluded, "encourages all nations to work patiently to weave a political and economic fabric of peace, in order to promote integral human development and peoples' authentic aspirations. Part of the finances allocated for armaments could be devolved to projects of economic and social development, of education and healthcare. Without doubt this would contribute to internal stability within countries and among peoples. In these unstable times for markets and employment, the need to ensure the financing of development continues to be a constant concern".
The Pope laid emphasis on the important position Japan occupies in the world economy, noting that "the decisions of its government will continue to have an impact far beyond its frontiers".
"May all men and women of good will see in the current economic crisis an opportunity for discernment and for preparing projects characterised by charity in truth, by solidarity and commitment in an ethically-oriented economy", he said.
The Holy Father then went on to refer to the freedom of conscience and worship which exist in Japan, and the opportunity the Catholic Church has "to live in peace and fraternity with everyone in the country".
"The members of the Catholic Church in Japan", he said, "have long been committed to open and respectful dialogue with other religions. ... The Church has always promoted respect for human beings in their integrity and their spiritual dimension, being an essential element common to all cultures which finds expression in the personal search for the sacred through the practice of religion. ... I wish to ensure the Japanese people", Pope Benedict concluded, "of the great respect with which the Catholic Church undertakes inter-religious dialogue, while remaining firmly committed to fostering mutual trust, understanding and friendship, for the benefit of the entire human family".