Photo/IllutrationPope Francis speaks in a video message to Japan he released on Nov. 18. The pope is scheduled to visit the country from Nov. 23. (From the site of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan)

ROME--Pope Francis posted a personal video message online to the people of Japan on Nov. 18, as part of preparations for his Nov. 23 visit to the country.

Francis, who is scheduled to visit the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, offered words of solidarity with citizens opposed to nuclear weapons.

The United States bombed the cities in August 1945 at the end of World War II, the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war.

“Together with all of you, I pray that the destructive power of nuclear weapons is never used again in human history,” the pope said in the video. “It is immoral to use nuclear weapons.”

It is customary for the pope to send out the message before he leaves on trips to other countries.

In the three-minute message, the pope spoke of the need for humans to act to protect all life.

“This strong instinct that resonates in our heart, to defend the value and dignity of all human persons, it takes a special importance in front of the threats to the peaceful coexistence that in the present moment the world has to face, especially the armed conflicts.”

He added, “Peace has something very beautiful, that when it is real, never goes back--and we defend it with tooth and nail.”

Francis will leave Rome the night of Nov. 19 and head to Thailand, the first stop on his official trip to Asia.

The pope's video can be viewed on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan at: https://popeinjapan2019.jp/en/