Pope John Paul II today admonished Japan's youths to beware of materialism and selfishness and to direct their lives toward concern for the poor.
On the second day of his Japan tour, he told a well-dressed, youthful audience that the marvels of their country's technological achievements could not create for them an "inner peace."
"I urge you to overcome every temptation to selfishness and to open wide your hearts to transcedent values and to the whole world," he said.
It was near the end of a busy schedule. Earlier he met with Emperor Hirohito, once looked upon as a living god in Japan, and talked with Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki.
His visit with the emperor was a somewhat controversial one among Japan's small Christian population and it marred one of his appearances -- an ecumenical gathering of Protestant and Catholic leaders.
Ten of the 32 Protestant ministers invited boycotted the morning event as a silent protest to the pope's visit with the emperor. A spokesman for the group, the Rev. Yoichi Kishimoto, said that the objecting ministers felt his visit at the Imperial Palace constituted a recognition of the emperor as a spiritual leader.
The emperor, regarded a divine leader until World War II, is now recognized only as a symbolic leader of the country. Some rightist and Shintoist groups campaign for a reassertion of his spirtual divinity, an idea which is opposed by most Japanese.
During their 45-minute meeting, the emperor thanked the pope for Catholic assistance in rebuilding Japan after the war. The pontiff later met with Suzuki and they agreed that nuclear weapons should be abolished.