Benedict XVI Meets Japanese Prime Minister

Affirms Mutual Desire to Aid Africa

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with the prime minister of Japan and discussed issues such as their mutual commitment to help the African people.

A Vatican communiqué reported that the Pope’s audience today with Taro Aso was cordial, and dealt with “several relevant international issues particularly the economic crisis and the commitment of Japan and of the Holy See for Africa.”

The Japanese ambassador to the Holy See, Kagefumi Ueno, told ZENIT that his country shares with the Vatican the idea that the poorest countries of Africa “should not become the victims of the current economic crisis for which they are not responsible.”

The audience underlined the “fine relationship” between the Holy See and Japan and affirmed the “existing harmony and cooperation between the Church and the State.”

After this meeting, the Catholic prime minister met with the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, along with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign secretary.

This visit marks the second high-level meeting between the Vatican and the Asian country this year.

Last March, Archbishop Mamberti 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.

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

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