• The Associated Press

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Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived Friday in Japan, urging people to carry on Pope John Paul II’s legacy of peace as the world prepares for the pontiff’s funeral.

“Firstly, we lost a great human being, a leader of a great religion but also one very good human being,” the Dalai Lama said after arriving at Narita airport.

“Now it is important that we must carry all his messages and guidance with us. We must make every effort to fulfill his wishes,” he said, listing peace, equality and promotion of spiritual value as qualities the pope had embodied. The pope’s funeral took place at the Vatican on Friday.

The Dalai Lama is here for a 12-day visit — his 10th to Japan — where Buddhism is one of the country’s principal religions.

China has often lashed out when countries allow visits by the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle against Chinese rule of his homeland.

A Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Japan has consistently explained to Beijing that the Dalai Lama’s visits here do not indicate Japan’s support for Tibetan independence.

During his Tokyo visit, the Dalai Lama plans to give a lecture Saturday titled “Compassion and Human Relations,” according to his liaison office in Tokyo.

Next week, he is set to travel to Kumamoto Prefecture to speak at Rengein Tanjyoji Tera, a Buddhist temple.

The Dalai Lama will then visit the old castle town of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, for a Buddhist lecture jointly hosted by his office and a Japanese support group for Tibetan refugees.

China views the Dalai Lama as a divisive force in Tibet, which it occupied by force in 1951. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against communist rule.

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