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Japan FM calls for China transparency over Tibet

April 28, 2008

TOKYO, April 27, 2008 (AFP) — Japan's Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura
reiterated on Sunday calls for China to increase transparency over
Tibet, saying it was difficult to believe there was no suppression of
human rights there.

Komura said greater transparency would help ease international suspicion
about human rights abuses in the remote Himalyan region, where Beijing's
crackdown on recent unrest has sparked foreign concern.

"There is a wide gap between what the side of the Dalai Lama is saying
and what the Chinese side is saying. I think the truth is probably
somewhere in the middle," Komura said.

"I find it impossible to believe there has been no suppression on human
rights, or problems of human rights, at all.

"But there is no knowing how far it has gone," Komura told a Sunday
programme at the private Fuji television network.

"Unless they have transparency, it can't be helped that the world
suspects the side in power is doing it (suppressing human rights)," he said.

Komura said earlier his month that he urged his Chinese counterpart
during talks here to "increase transparency and stressed the importance
of dialogue" to resolve the Tibetan problem.

But China's foreign minister rebuffed the call, saying he told Komura
"that the Tibetan issue is China's domestic issue".

The largest protests in nearly 20 years broke out last month in Tibet
against Beijing's controversial rule in the predominantly Buddhist region.

Tibetan leaders say the Chinese crackdown left more than 150 dead.

Beijing says no one died as it restored order, but that Tibetan rioters
killed 20 people.

China has repeatedly blamed people close to Tibet's spirirual leader,
the Dalai Lama, for orchestrating the unrest, which it says is a
deliberate attempt to sabotage the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

The Dalai Lama denies the charges and says he only wants "meaningful
autonomy" for the Himalayan region to preserve Tibet's language, culture
and environment within China, and does not seek independence.

China on Friday offered to hold fresh talks with a Dalai Lama envoy over
the issue which threatens to overshadow the runup to the Games in August.

Komura also reiterated Japan has yet to decide whether to send anyone to
the Olympic opening ceremony but confirmed it would not boycott it over
the violence in Tibet.

"It's only France which has talked about the link" between the Tibet
issue to attending the opening ceremony, he added.

Komura also said he was "grateful" to police for security during the
Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay on Saturday.

Protesters hurled rubbish and flares at the torch and brawled with
Chinese supporters. Six people were arrested in scuffles during the run
in Nagano, but they were neither Chinese nor Tibetan, the minister said.

The torch moved to Seoul on Sunday.
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