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Asia Insight

Pope Francis' Japan visit spotlights a safe haven for Catholics

Tour brings hope to believers facing persecution in Asia and beyond

FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- With the careful hands of a surgeon, Guillain Mwenge gingerly produces a blue and white card from his backpack. The thin slip granting him a seat in Tokyo Dome may well be the most prized possession for the doctor-turned-refugee, who found sanctuary in Japan after escaping political persecution in Congo a year and a half ago.

Despite having to leave his country and his family due to his activities with a youth protest group, seeing the leader of the faith he was raised in gave meaning to Mwenge's journey to Japan. He was one of five refugees and about 55,000 Catholics who received coveted tickets for a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the storied baseball stadium.

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