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No Official Welcome For The Dalai Lama

June 18, 2010

By Rosie Kusunoki Jones
The Wall Street Journal
June 17, 2010,

When the Dalai Lama visited Washington in
February, President Barack Obama hosted him at
the White House. During the exiled Tibetan
leader’s week-long visit to Tokyo starting this
Sunday, “His Holiness has no plans to meet any
political figures," according to spokesman Tsewang Gyalpo Arya.

The Dalai’s Lama’s non-visit with Prime Minister
Naoto Kan is not the first time he has been
shunned by a Japanese leader. The Dalai Lama was
also given a wide berth  by Yukio Hatoyama when
visiting last November, although it was reported
that Mr. Hatoyama sent an unofficial message to
him through a member of the ruling Democratic
Party of Japan and an accompanying group of policy makers.

An official at the foreign ministry’s China and
Mongolia division told JRT:  "The Dalai Lama only
visits Japan for religious purposes and so there
has never been an opportunity for him to meet
with a Japanese prime minister in an official
capacity."  When asked if this was for fear of
angering Beijing,  the official declined to comment.

The DPJ has advocated closer ties with China.
Chinese Premier Wen Jibao visited Tokyo late last
month, shortly before Mr. Hatoyama’s resignation,
and has already invited the new Japanese prime
minister to visit China -- and invitation Mr. Kan has accepted.

Although the official purpose of the Dalai Lama’s
trip may be religious and cultural, his visit to
Zenkoji on June 20, a 7th century temple in
Nagano, carries political overtones. The temple
became the centrer of an international media
furor two years ago when it refused to host the
Japan leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay.
This was in protest against the religious clashes
taking place in Tibet at the time.
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