INTRODUCTION: Pope John Paul II arrived in Japan on Monday (23 February) -- the first Pontiff ever to visit the country.
GV & SV Car with anti-Pope slogan stopped by police. (4 SHOTS)
GV Car drives off.
GV & SV Heavy police security stopping cars and checking them near airport.
CU PULL BACK TO GV Aircraft arriving.
GV Officials walking towards aircraft holding umbrellas.
SV Pope down steps of aircraft and waves to crowd.
SV PAN FROM Japanese Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ito TO Pope kissing ground, stands up and greets Masayoshi Ito.
SV Cameramen take pictures and Pope presented with flowers. (2 SHOTS)
GV People waving flags from terminal building as Pope's car drives off with escort. (2 SHOTS)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Pope John Paul II arrived in Japan on Monday (23 February) -- the first Pontiff ever to visit the country. Roman Catholics number less than one percent of Japan's population, but the Pope said the message of the Gospel was credible in present-day Japan.
Right-wing publicity vans have waged a determined anti-Papal campaign against the four-day visit and more than 8,500 police are helping to guard the Pope from minority movements who still deify Emperor Hirohito as a God-king.
Right-wingers identified as members of the Greater Japan Patriotic Party, said the Roman Catholic church had served as the vanguard of colonialism in Asia. Roman Catholicism was banned by feudal law for 235 years until 1873. An official decree stopped Christians from coming to Japan "as long as the sun warmed the earth".
It was raining when the Pontiff's airliner landed at Tokyo airport from Guam and the Philippines. A small crowd came to greet Pope John Paul, and when the Pontiff climbed down from the aircraft, it was to a cooler welcome than those during the first half of his Asian tour. In Tokyo, the Pope described himself as a pilgrim of peace.
Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ito officially welcomed the Pope, who demonstrated his delight at being in Japan when he kissed the earth. The Papal itinerary includes a visit to the H-bomb cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nagasaki has been Japan's traditional catholic stronghold. The Jesuits developed Nagasaki from a tiny village to a flourishing 16th century merchant port. During the ban on Catholicism many Nagasaki families kept their faith alive in secret, and most of the country's Christians still live in the area.
At Tokyo, only about a hundred people turned out to see Pope John Paul, and his car was driven down empty streets to the first ever Papal Mass in Japan.