Tibet's Exiled Spiritual Leader Visits Japan

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived in Japan Thursday for a week-long visit that will include a public speech, but he is barred from any political activity.

During his stay, the Dalai Lama will visit the ancient Shinto shrine of Ise in western Japan and will speak at a religious forum in Yokohama, which is near Tokyo.

Japanese officials allowed the Dalai Lama to visit on condition that he not participate in any political activities, a move to avoid upsetting China.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao today expressed annoyance with Japan's government for allowing the visit. The spokesman also reiterated Beijing's opposition to any country that provides a venue for what he called the Dalai Lama's "separatist activities."

The Dalai Lama's recent visits to Germany, Canada and the United States also have angered Chinese officials.

China has ruled Tibet since sending troops to the region in 1950, and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet.

In October, the U.S. Congress presented the 72-year-old Buddhist monk with its highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal. China protested the award and said the United States had gravely undermined bilateral relations.

Since the late 1980s, the Dalai Lama has been struggling to negotiate an autonomous status agreement for Tibet.