Dalai Lama prays for reconciliation in Asia

November 12th 2006

Tokyo, Japan, 11 Nov 2006 (AFP) - The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled an abortive uprising against China, which sent troops into Tibet in 1950.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of being a 'splittist' and opposes his visits abroad, although he says he is seeking greater autonomy for the Himalayan Buddhist region within China.

The Nobel peace laureate paid his 12th visit to Japan to give lectures and take part in Buddhist rites. Most of his two-week trip has been in the western city of Hiroshima, the scene of the world's first nuclear attack.

In Tokyo, the Tibetan spiritual leader urged Japan to play a larger role in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons.

'Among the six billion human beings, I think the Japanese are the really relevant nation to lead a total elimination of nuclear weapons,' he said. 'So please, Japanese should take a more active role in this field.'

Japan is the only nation in the world that has been attacked by atomic bombs.

US nuclear attacks obliterated Hiroshima and the southern city of Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II. More than 210,000 people were killed instantly or from horrific burns.

Japan has been alarmed by North Korea's test last month of its first atom bomb, with some political leaders calling on Tokyo to debate the long-taboo option of going nuclear itself.

But the Dalai Lama called for world leaders to end the nuclear arms race, saying it was only the first step.

'They must make effort to elimination of nuclear weapons, then also the chemical weapons,' he said.

The Dalai Lama was allowed to visit Japan on the condition he avoid political activities.

Despite the Dalai Lama's frequent visits to Japan, the government has shied away from meeting him. Only one sitting Japanese prime minister has met the Dalai Lama -- Zenko Suzuki in 1980.

But he received a passionate reception from the audience in the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium, which included Japanese celebrities including movie stars and television figures. The lecture was emceed by actress Midori Kiuchi.

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