Photo/IllutrationNagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, left, hands a letter to Pope Francis on May 2, 2018, in Vatican City. ((c) Vatican Media Foto, provided by the Nagasaki city government)

Pope Francis will likely travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in November in what will be the first papal visit to Japan in 38 years, government and other sources said.

Aside from visiting the two cities leveled by atomic bombing in 1945, Francis, 82, is expected to meet with Emperor Naruhito, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He will hold mass at the Tokyo Dome stadium in the capital during his four-day stay, the sources said.

The pope is also considering meeting with people who evacuated their homes following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and an advocacy group calling for abolition of the death penalty.

Francis, who assumed the papacy in 2013, is expected to visit from Nov. 23 to Nov. 26, the sources said. The last pontiff to visit Japan was John Paul II in 1981.

As spiritual head of 1.2 billion Catholics, the pope is an ardent advocate of a world without nuclear weapons and the abolition of capital punishment.

On the latter issue, the Roman Catholic Church formally changed its teaching last year to declare it inadmissible whatever the circumstance after the Vatican had turned a blind eye to the death penalty in extreme cases.

The recent change reflects Francis' vehement opposition to capital punishment.

He may raise the issue during his stay in Japan, where execution by hanging is still carried out.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first from South America. Born in Buenos Aires, he harbored a strong desire when he was young to visit Japan as a missionary to pay his respects to 26 Jesuits who were martyred for their faith in Nagasaki during Japanese authorities’ persecution of Christians in the late 16th century.