Pope, Japanese PM discuss nuclear weapons after North Korea missile fires into Sea of Japan

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Pope Francis for a private conversation Wednesday, the same day a ballistic missile was fired into the Sea of Japan.

The world leaders met for approximately a half hour at the Vatican, spending the majority of their time discussing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Pope Francis, a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons, has previously expressed sympathy with the island nation’s history with the issue. The meeting also marked the important 80-year milestone between Japan and the Holy See.

“During the cordial talks in the Secretariat of State, satisfaction was expressed at the bilateral collaboration, evoking the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In this context, the contribution of the Catholic Church in many sectors of Japanese society was noted and appreciated,” the Holy See said in a statement.

NORTH KOREA PREPARING NUCLEAR TEST FOR FIRST TIME IN YEARS, INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS SAY 

“Attention then turned to issues of an international nature, with particular attention to the war in Ukraine, stressing the urgency of dialogue and peace and expressing the hope, to this end, for a world free of nuclear weapons,” the statement continued. The specifics of their discussion were not provided. 

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan Wednesday, according to reports. Japan’s Defense Ministry and South Korea’s military confirmed the launches, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency and the Japan Times reported Wednesday afternoon local time. 

FILE - Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021.

FILE – Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021.
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

“Our military is tracking and monitoring related movements and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters, according to Yonhap. The launch reportedly came from the Pyongyang area minutes after 12 noon. 

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently warned he would use nuclear weapons ‘preemptively’ if threatened. The dictator recently presided over another massive military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s revolutionary army.  

Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, watches an honor guard before his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Kim said the summit will be a starting point for productive talks on cooperation, Vesti TV reported him as saying in an interview. 

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, watches an honor guard before his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Kim said the summit will be a starting point for productive talks on cooperation, Vesti TV reported him as saying in an interview. 
( Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Kim pledged to develop nuclear weapons at the “fastest possible speed,” according to his state-run media. There are concerns that the North Korean dictator will use the opportunity to unleash a new nuclear test to spoil the upcoming summit of President Biden on May 21 in South Korea, days after the country’s new leader takes the helm next week. 

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