Tibet's Spiritual Leader Prays for Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami Victims

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama prays for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, during a public prayer at Buddhist temple in Tokyo April 29, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER RELIGION HEADSHOT PROF

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Friday offered prayers for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last month.

At Tokyo's Gokokuji Temple, the Dalai Lama offered his condolences and urged survivors to be hopeful. He said there is "no reason to feel discouraged and remain hopeless."

He joined Tibetan and Japanese monks at prayers on the 50th day since the disaster, which left more than 25,000 people dead or missing and made tens of thousands homeless.

The 75-year-old spiritual leader was on his first visit to Japan since the March 11th disaster. He later will travel on to the United States.

The Dalai Lama is giving up his political role as the leader of Tibetans in exile. Those duties will be taken up by Lobsang Sangay, an academic in the Untied States who was elected to lead the exile community, which has been based in Dharamsala, India, since thousands of Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama there when he fled Chinese rule of Tibet.