Pope Francis to visit Japan and Thailand in November: Vatican

Pope Francis had wanted to work as a missionary there in his youth but abandoned the plan after a lung operation. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2019

Pope Francis to visit Japan and Thailand in November: Vatican

  • The pope in January voiced his intention to visit Japan, home to some 450,000 Roman Catholics
  • Francis had wanted to work as a missionary there in his youth but abandoned the plan after a lung operation

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis is to visit Thailand and Japan, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from November 19 to 26, the Vatican announced on Friday.
The pontiff will travel to Thailand from November 20-23 and then Japan to November 26, the Vatican said in a statement.
The pope’s Japan leg, the first papal visit since John Paul II nearly 40 years ago, will also take him to Tokyo.
The pope in January voiced his intention to visit Japan, home to some 450,000 Roman Catholics.
Around 510,000 Protestants live in the largely Shinto Buddhist country, according to Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Francis had wanted to work as a missionary there in his youth but abandoned the plan after a lung operation.
The pope has made two trips to Asia since his election five years ago, visiting the Philippines and Sri Lanka in 2014, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh last year.
In 2018, Francis issued a harrowing photograph taken in 1945 showing a young Japanese boy carrying his dead brother.
The child, carried on the boy’s back, was killed when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki.
Francis, who has often spoken of the dangers of nuclear weapons, had written on the back of the image just four words: “The fruit of war.”
Pope John Paul II visited Japan in 1981.


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 18 min 2 sec ago

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015
ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.