The Church's small size "must not diminish your commitment to evangelization," he urged the bishops. "The starting point for every apostolate is the concrete place in which people find themselves, with their daily routines and occupations, not in artificial places."
"It is there that we must reach the souls of our cities, workplaces and universities, in order to accompany the faithful entrusted to us with the Gospel of compassion and mercy."
The motto of the papal visit to Japan is "protect all life." He told the bishops it is their role as pastor of their people to protect life.
About the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, he said he wants to meet "those who still bear the wounds of this tragic episode in human history," adding that "their continued sufferings are an eloquent reminder of our human and Christian duty to assist those who are troubled in body and spirit, and to offer to all the Gospel message of hope, healing and reconciliation."
The pope also expressed his sorrow for the devastating Typhoon Hagabis, which hit Japan last month and led to at least 88 deaths and 300 injuries.
"Let us entrust to the Lord's mercy those who have died, their families and all who have lost their homes and material possessions," he said. "May we never be afraid to pursue, here and throughout the world, a mission capable of speaking out and defending all life as a precious gift from the Lord."
Pope Francis exchanged a few laughs with the bishops at the start of the meeting, beginning by apologizing for not greeting each of them one by one as he entered.
"You will think, 'but how rude these Argentinians are,'" he joked. He also said he heard the Japanese are good workers, so they put him to work immediately.
After speaking, Pope Francis opened up the floor to the bishops to ask him questions.
On the last full day of his trip Nov. 25, the pope will meet with the country's prime minister and emperor, and with authorities. He will also have an encounter with youth and will celebrate Mass in the Tokyo Dome.