Mayor Matsui and Governor Yuzaki expect Pope’s speech to send message for peace

by Yui Kihara and Tomoko Takamoto, Staff Writers

On November 24, Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui welcomed Pope Francis at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward, where they took part in a “Meeting for Peace.” Mr. Yuzaki and Mr. Matsui helped fuel momentum for the Pope’s visit by making direct requests for him to come to Hiroshima. They listened closely to the Pope’s message, then said with resolve, “His message will bring a boost to the goal of spreading Hiroshima’s appeal for peace and no more war to the world.”

When Pope Francis stepped out of his car, the two Hiroshima leaders greeted him warmly, shaking his hand with a smile and offering words of welcome. After the “Meeting for Peace,” Mr. Matsui responded to the media by saying, “The Pope told us that he was very pleased to be in Hiroshima.” He then expressed his hopes, saying, “The Pope’s message helped convey to the world, once again, that Hiroshima is a symbol of peace. I hope his visit will pave the way for the leaders of the world’s nations to visit Hiroshima and gain a deeper understanding of what happened here.”

Mr. Matsui attended the General Audience at the Vatican in November 2017 and Mr. Yuzaki did so in May of that year, and they each asked Pope Francis to visit Hiroshima, sharing the efforts they have made toward nuclear abolition. On this day, Mr. Yuzaki said that the Pope told him, “You were the first to invite me to come to Hiroshima.”

Mr. Yuzaki said, “Pope Francis condemned the use of nuclear weapons as a crime, and he strongly rejected the idea of nuclear deterrence. He delivered a powerful message that the people of all nations must work together for the abolition of nuclear weapons.” With next year’s 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing in mind, he added, “Pope Francis has given me greater courage to advance our efforts to realize the elimination of nuclear arms.”

(Originally published on November 25, 2019)