Japanese Prime Minister to Visit Vatican

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will receive in audience the prime minister of Japan next month, which will be the second high-level meeting between the Vatican and the Asian country this year.

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The Union of Catholic Asian News revealed Friday that Japan’s Catholic prime minister, Taro Aso, will visit the Vatican on July 7, the day before the opening of the Group of Eight Summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

Last March, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign secretary, became the first Vatican top diplomat to make an official visit to Japan in the 67-year-history of bilateral relations, which were established in 1942.

Japan’s ambassador to the Holy See, Kagefumi Ueno, told ZENIT last week that Archbishop Mamberti’s 6-day visit “assisted in shortening a sense of distance existing between the two countries.”

The last Japanese prime minister to visit the Vatican was former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who visited Pope John Paul II in 1999.

There are 1 million Catholics living in Japan, out of a total population of 127 million.

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