Abe to send letter to Pope Francis

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to send a personal letter to Pope Francis on Thursday explaining Japan's contributions to the international community as a peaceful nation, a ruling party member said Tuesday.

The plan to send the letter, which outlines the steps Japan has taken in the 70 years since the end of World War II, was announced at a press conference on Tuesday by Katsuyuki Kawai, a House of Representatives lawmaker and member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Kawai is expected to meet with high-ranking Vatican officials on Thursday and hand over Abe's letter.

Abe appears to be aiming to demonstrate his policy of proactive contribution to peace to a wider audience around the world by reaching out to Pope Francis, who wields strong influence on countries with large Catholic populations, such as the United States, South Korea and countries in Europe.