Pope Francis announced on Wednesday he intends to visit Japan in 2019, becoming the first pontiff to do so since John Paul II.
"I would like to communicate my intention to visit Japan next year," the pope told a group of Japanese during an audience at the Vatican. "I hope to be able to fulfil this wish."
The pope on Wednesday received delegates from the charitable Tensho Kenoho Shisetsu Kenshokai Association, commemorating a visit in 1585 of four young Japanese men accompanied by Jesuit missionaries.
The Argentine pontiff has repeatedly said he wants to visit Japan. He had wanted to work as a missionary there in his youth but abandoned his plan after an operation on his lung.
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