Dalai Lama to speak at Kyoto college

OSAKA — The 14th Dalai Lama arrived in Japan on Thursday on a visit strongly protested by China that will take him to several locations around Japan, including stops in the ancient capital of Kyoto.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Japan comes at the invitation of Kyoto Seka University, which has invited him to speak at an event marking the inauguration of a department of environment and social sciences.

Security for the event has been extra heavy and public and media access has been greatly curtailed following protests by the Chinese government over his presence. Chinese officials reportedly visited Kyoto Seka University after the invitation was issued, asking that it be canceled.

Another university in Kyoto had also extended an invitation to the Dalai Lama, but revoked it for reasons it claims were unrelated to Chinese pressure.

Kyoto Seka University officials said that the public response has been overwhelming, and that nearly 30,000 inquiries from around Japan about his visit have been received.

The university said that his talk will focus only on environmental issues and concerns and that he will not talk about politics.

The Chinese government takes the view that the Dalai Lama’s very presence constitutes a political act. There had been some question as to whether he would be granted a visa because of Beijing’s pressure.

Although there had been media speculation that he might have an unofficial meeting with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, that was later denied. While in Kyoto, he has no plans to meet with local government officials.

A Kyoto Seka University spokesman said, however, some meetings with local religious leaders may be worked out.

The Dalai Lama is planning to hold a formal press conference in Tokyo early this week.