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China pressured a former Diet member to drop a plan to invite the Dalai Lama to Japan, sources said Thursday.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader will arrive in Japan on Friday.

The sources said a senior diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo visited the office of former House of Representatives member Seishu Makino in August to urge him to abandon the plan.

The diplomat told Makino, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, that the invitation will have an undesirable effect on Japan-China relations.

The Chinese diplomat told Kyodo News that the Dalai Lama is not a religious but a political leader advocating independence. Inviting him constitutes interference in China’s domestic affairs, he said.

It is rare for a foreign government to make a request directly to a Diet member, the sources said.

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