Dalai Lama says Tokyo too wary about granting visa

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, now visiting Japan, said Tokyo was “a little overcautious” in granting him an entry visa for the trip.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, the Dalai Lama was vague about media reports that the Foreign Ministry had pressured him not to engage in political activity during his stay as a condition for issuing his visa.

He told reporters that his visit, his first in two years except for a short transit stay, is of “a purely nonpolitical nature.” He is here at the invitation of Kyoto Seika University to celebrate the launch of a new department.

Tokyo’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama’s entry has angered Beijing, which said it could undermine bilateral relations. Apparently to avoid further ire from Beijing, the Foreign Ministry is said to have specifically warned the Dalai Lama not to meet with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara during his visit.

“I have nothing to say. Reporters, please investigate what really happened. It will help me also,” he said in a half-serious and half-joking tone when he was asked about his decision not to see Ishihara despite receiving an invitation for a meeting from the outspoken governor known for his anti-China rhetoric.

“I don’t want to create any embarrassment for the host organization and country. We can meet in the future,” he said.

In the news conference, the Dalai Lama reiterated his position that he is not seeking Tibet’s independence, but autonomy within China in a “mutually agreeable” way.

While the Chinese constitution spells out a unique status for Tibet, in reality, the province’s uniqueness is manifested in destitution, he said.

“I suggest to the central government of (China) that they send unbiased people to study the actual situation in Tibet,” he said, noting reports by local Chinese officials were unreliable and distorted.

The Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual leader also urged the world’s industrialized nations to admit China into the global free trade system, saying isolating Beijing would be a mistake.

It is in the spirit and actions of engagement that core principles such as Tibet and human rights should be discussed, he said.