The Pope met with Japanese bishops during their 'ad limina' visit to Rome.
Pope Francis gave them a written speech with his remarks. He reminded them of the two pillars of Catholic history in Japan. First, he recalled the faith of Japan's missionaries, such as St. Francis Xavier. He then discussed the "hidden Christians" who remained in the faith when priests and missionaries were expelled from Japan.
Persecuted Christians who kept the faith despite great difficulties were an example for the bishops, said the Pope.
He also reminded them that the Japanese appreciate the work of the Church, which was essential during the tsunami that devastated Japan four years ago.
Toward the end, the bishops appeared happy as they transmitted a message to Pope Francis.
"The people of Japan are waiting for you."
Catholics in Japan represent only 0.5 percent of the population, or about 500,000 people in a country of 127 million.