By Phurbu Thinley
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. His Holiness is on an eight-day visit to Japan where he will give a series of public talk. Seen to his left is Lhakpa Tsogo, Representative of His Holiness in Japan. (AP photo)
Dharamsala, October 31: Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Friday started a week-long visit to Japan, where he is expected to stay until November 7 and give talks on spirituality.
This is His Holiness’ first trip overseas after he was given 'green signal' by doctors to resume his activities following a surgery to remove gall stones in New Delhi. He had to cancel his planned visits to Europe, Mexico and Dominican Republic in recent months due to his health concerns.
The Dalai Lama smiled and waved as he was welcomed at Narita airport near Tokyo by dozens of Tibetan expatriates, Japanese well-wishers and fellow Buddhist monks, AFP reported.
"I'm very happy to be once more in this country and to have the opportunity to meet all my friends," the Nobel Peace Laureate was quoted as saying upon his arrival in Japan.
Some 50 plain-clothes police officers reportedly kept watch and escorted the Dalai Lama into a waiting car as Tibetans chanted "Free Tibet."
During his stay, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to give speeches arranged by a Japanese Buddhist group and Tibetan supporters. He will also visit children and monks.
He is due to deliver speeches at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Nov. 3 in Tokyo.
He will then travel to the southwestern city of Fukuoka to give a public talk on “Compassionate Mind: Key to a Happy Life” on November 4 at the Media Dome in Kitakyushu. On November 6 he will give a public talk in Tokyo about the nature of the mind.
Dalai Lama last visited Japan in November last year. In April this year, the Tibetan leader made a brief stopover in Japan on his way to the United States, amid protests around the world over China's handling of unrest in his native Tibet that broke a month ago, and was met by Akie Abe, the wife of Japan's former conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (left), surrounded by security police, is greeted by wellwishers upon his arrival at the Narita Airport, suburban Tokyo, on October 31. The Dalai Lama arrived here on a week-long visit to Japan after surgery this month.
The Dalai Lama is a frequent visitor to Japan where he enjoys an active following. But unlike many Western nations, Japan -- which has an uncomfortable relationship with China -- has almost always refused high-level official contacts with the Dalai Lama and no officials are scheduled to meet him on the current trip.
After returning from Japan, he is set to visit Pune, Meerut and New Delhi for delivering sermons in the second week of November.
From Dharamsala, his exile home in the northern India, the Dalai Lama travels extensively around the world promoting human values, teaching Buddhism and, advocating for Tibetan rights and their struggle for greater freedom. He often meets with world leaders to present the case of Tibet.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China, which sent military troops to occupy the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan country in 1949, and has regularly protested against countries that agree to visits by him.
The Dalai Lama says he is only seeking a “real and meaningful” autonomy for Tibetan people within China and opposes the use of violence.
However, last weekend, ahead of the ongoing talks between his envoys and Chinese government officials, the Dalai Lama said he was losing "faith and trust” in dealing with Chinese leadership on the issue of Tibet. In the absence of any positive response from the Chinese leadership to his “middle-way” policy, the Dalai Lama maintained that he would be left with no option but, to ask Tibetan Government-in-exile in consultation with Tibetan people to decide the future course of the dialogue process.
“If the Chinese leadership honestly engages in talks, then I may be in a position to take up this responsibility again. I will, then, sincerely engage with them,” the Dalai Lama said on October 25 at a huge function in Dharamsala.