Pope Francis is hopeful that Japan will strengthen its commitment to peace and against violence despite the “senseless” assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the Vatican has said.
In a telegram, Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the killing and he offered his condolences to Mr Abe’s family and the people of Japan.
Mr Abe was fatally shot during a campaign speech on Friday in the city of Nara. Japanese media reported that the gunman, who was apprehended, had developed a hatred towards a religious group to which his mother was devoted.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, signed the telegram, which said of the Pope: “In the wake of this senseless act, he prays that Japanese society will be strengthened in its historic commitment to peace and non-violence.”
Pope Francis last met with Mr Abe during a 2019 trip to Japan.
He visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where two US atomic bombs were dropped in the Second World War, and declared the mere possession of nuclear weapons was “immoral”.
In May, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and Pope Francis held a meeting at the Vatican as Russia pressed its war in Ukraine and after North Korea vowed to speed up the development of its own nuclear arsenal.
They vowed to work together to try to rid the world of nuclear weapons, according to Vatican and Japanese officials.