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“Japan feels a lot of economic, cultural, and political weight from China. Since Tibet is a serious issue for China, the Japanese government is wary and prefers to be reserved on this issue” – Seishi Makino (Former Japanese Lawmaker)

–Thu Nov 15, 3:54 AM ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama started a tour of Japan Thursday to speak at sold-out crowds but is getting a cold shoulder from the government, which is trying to improve relations with China.

Dalai Lama Blessing Japanese at the Airport.A crowd of supporters bowed their heads in respect as the maroon-robed monk arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo to start his 10-day visit at the invitation of a Buddhist group.

The Dalai Lama, who last visited Japan a year ago, will tour the holiest Shinto shrine of Ise, address public forums on spirituality and visit local schools.
But the Japanese government has said that no officials will meet him and that it allowed the visit on the condition he not engage in political activities.

Unlike in many of his previous trips, Japan is not offering any security for the Dalai Lama, forcing the Nobel laureate’s office to hire private bodyguards. China, which sent troops into Tibet in 1950, opposes the international travels of the globetrotting Dalai Lama, accusing him of agitating for Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama, who fled for exile in India in 1959 amid a failed uprising in Lhasa, says he wants autonomy for Tibet within China.

The cold shoulder from Japan is in stark contrast to the growing embrace of the Dalai Lama by Western countries.

Last month, the United States defied China’s protests and awarded the Dalai Lama the top congressional civilian honour.

Japan has uneasy ties with China, in part due to the legacy of Tokyo‘s aggression in its larger neighbour in the 1930s and 1940s.

Japanese leaders have been working to improve relations since they sank to rock bottom during the 2001-2006 premiership of Junichiro Koizumi. China is also Japan’s largest commercial partner, fuelling the economic recovery here. “Western democracies are able to disassociate human rights issues from their economic relationships with China. In that sense policies in countries like in Europe or the US are more mature than politics here,” Makino said.

(Taken from Yahoo! News)

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