Dalai Lama to visit Japan in November: Buddhist group

AFP, July 24, 2008

TOKYO, Japan -- Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will visit Japan in November for a series of lectures and meetings on Buddhist themes, a religious group said Thursday.

The Nobel laureate, whose travels overseas are opposed by China, will visit Japan from November 1 to 7 and speak in the southwestern city of Fukuoka about compassion and happiness, the Fukuoka Prefectural Buddhist Association said.

Supporters are also arranging other events for the Dalai Lama, an official with the Buddhist group said.

The 73-year-old Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising in 1959, is a frequent visitor to Japan where he enjoys an active following.

But unlike many Western nations, Japan has almost always refused high-level official contacts with the Dalai Lama, even declining to provide security for what it considers private visits.

Japan has historically had uneasy relations with China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from Beijing through his meetings with foreign officials.

The Dalai Lama says he is seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet within China and has criticised Beijing's clampdown on protests that broke out in the Himalayan region in March ahead of the Olympic Games.

The Dalai Lama last visited Japan in April just after the protests. He met on the brief visit with Akie Abe, the wife of Japan's conservative former premier Shinzo Abe, but not with Japanese officials.