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Dalai Lama visits Japan's holiest Shinto shrine, renews call for Tibetan autonomy

November 20, 2007

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 18, 2007
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TOKYO: The Dalai Lama visited Japan's most sacred Shinto shrine 
Sunday and brushed off Chinese criticism of his recent international 
travels.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader prayed at Ise Jingu, the nation's 
holiest Shinto shrine, before giving a lecture at nearby Kogakkan 
University, according to organizer Norihiro Kimura.

Details of his shrine visit could not be released, Kimura said, 
citing security reasons.

The Dalai Lama told reporters Saturday in Ise that his mission is to 
promote harmony among different religions, and vowed to continue 
exchanges with religious leaders around the world.

The Dalai Lama said if he dies in exile his successor would appear 
anywhere but China in order to keep his mission alive.

China has ruled Tibet with a heavy hand since its Communist-led 
forces invaded in 1951, and it has accused the Buddhist monk of 
defying its sovereignty by pushing for Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, says he wants "real 
autonomy" for Tibet.

He reiterated Saturday that autonomy was all he was asking for, not 
independence, and refused to accept China's allegation that he is a 
"separatist," Japanese media reported.

The Dalai Lama also is scheduled to attend a Buddhist conference in 
Yokohama and visit a high school in the capital during his nine-day 
visit, his Tokyo office said. The visit is due to end Nov. 23.

Beijing routinely criticizes his frequent visits abroad, saying 
foreign governments are interfering in its internal affairs by 
receiving him.

Hours after his arrival Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry criticized 
Japan for allowing him to visit the country for "separatist activities."

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said top government officials had no 
plans to meet with the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Dalai Lama's recent meetings with leaders of Canada, Germany and 
the U.S. have also drawn rebukes from Chinese officials.
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