MOSCOW, September 5 (Itar-Tass) — Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia hopes that the upcoming trip to Japan will facilitate the development of relations between the two countries.
Patriarch Kirill said the visit to Japan scheduled for September 14-18 would have a positive impact on relations between the peoples and countries.
“I believe that we have good prospects for the development of relations: we are neighbours, we live nearby and much unites us. The Orthodox Church is one of the elements of our cooperation,” the patriarch said, adding that he riveted much attention to the visit “because this will give me an opportunity to pray jointly with Japanese Orthodox believers. This will also allow me to visit the places, which are linked with the life of Archbishop Nicolas”.
The Russian Orthodox Church primate’s will be timed to the 100th anniversary of the death of Saint Nicolas, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Archbishop of Japan. The patriarch stressed that Archbishop Nicolas facilitated the creation of the Orthodox Church in Japan. “I’d like to note the fact that at that time relations between Russia and Japan were not easy: Archbishop Nicolas stayed in Japan even during the Russian-Japanese war. He was a real missionary, who showed love and respect to the Japanese people despite the very difficult and dangerous political context. This proves that religious relations have a big potential,” Patriarch Kirill said.
He emphasised, “Relationship on the spiritual and cultural levels touch on human hearts that is why real reconciliation between both peoples can be reached, including with the active participation of religion.”
Earlier, Deacon Alexander Volkov said Patriarch Kirill would visit regions that were hit by the earthquake and the tsunami. “The trip will be held on September 14-18 at the invitation of the primate of the Japanese Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Daniil of Tokyo and All Japan. The patriarch will visit Tokyo and the Eparchy of Sendai located on Hokkaido and the north of Honshu,” he said.
Last year the disaster destroyed three Orthodox churches in the north-east. The church in Sendai remained intact although most houses were destroyed in the city.
“Patriarch Kirill will meet Orthodox believers and conduct services. He is also planning to have meetings with the Japanese leadership. Tokyo rivets much attention to Patriarch Kirill’s visit. One can hope that the trip will benefit Japanese believers and facilitate the strengthening of relationship between Russia and Japan,” the spokesman said.
The trip’s agenda was discussed by Patriarch Kirill and Japanese Ambassador to Russia Tikahito Harada on Wednesday, August 29.
Patriarch Kirill told Japanese mass media that when the earthquake struck Japan “it affected Russian people. Many Russians treated it as their own tragedy. Then we decided to collect means to provide assistance to the victims. This deed brought closer the Russian and Japanese people”. He noted that during the visit, “there will be a possibility to convey our sympathy to the Japanese people once again and pray with people, remember the victims and support those who lost their relatives”.
“I believe that I’ll have a meeting with the authorities, with the Japanese emperor,” the patriarch told journalists. He noted that his predecessor’s meeting with the Japanese emperor in 2000 “was praised all around the world and, of course in Russia”. “I’d like to meet with this outstanding person who makes big contribution to establishing relations between the peoples,” Patriarch Kirill stressed.
The visit to Japan is on the agenda of the patriarch’s Far East tour. “In the beginning of the autumn Patriarch Kirill makes more trips to the Far East and Siberia. In 2010 he visited Sakhalin, Kamchatka and Yakutia. Last year he visited Magadan, Khakassia, Tyva and Irkutsk. This autumn he will travel to Krasnoyarsk, Japan, Vladivostok,” Deacon Alexander Volkov said.