Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sent a message to the visiting Dalai Lama through a group of lawmakers Sunday, saying he hopes to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader again, group sources said.
Hatoyama avoided directly meeting with the Dalai Lama apparently in hopes of not provoking China, which sees the Buddhist leader as a separatist trying to tear Tibet from Chinese rule.
But the message may draw criticism from Beijing all the same.
Before he became prime minister in September, Hatoyama met the Dalai Lama in November 2007 as secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan and expressed support for “high autonomy” for Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile after fleeing to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, received Hatoyama’s message at a Tokyo hotel.
It was delivered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers interested in Tibet headed by DPJ member Seishu Makino.
The Dalai Lama thanked Hatoyama for the message and told the lawmakers he was pleased that Hatoyama, with whom he has met several times, has become prime minister, according to the sources.