Activist laments Japan govt won't meet Dalai Lama

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TOKYO, Nov 15 (Reuters) A human rights activist lamented on today that no one from the Japanese government would meet the Dalai Lama during his nine-day visit to the country centred on Buddhist events.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Japan today but had no plans to meet government officials, in what Japanese media said was a sign Japan wanted to keep improving ties with China on track.

China reviles the Dalai Lama as a political exile and traitor since he fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

''Meeting the Dalai Lama at the level of prime minister is the least that people can do to support the group of people that are under tremendous pressure,'' Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told a news conference.

''If the Japanese government is not meeting with the Dalai Lama at a high level, then I think it's a shame,'' he added.

China criticised the exiled leader's visit, which follows a visit last year.

''We have reiterated on many occasions that we oppose any countries providing a venue for the Dalai Lama's separatist activities,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference in Beijing.

''We feel regret that Japan allowed the Dalai Lama to visit.'' The Dalai Lama, considered the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was received by the leaders of Canada and the United States last month and met the Australian prime minister and German chancellor earlier this year.

In Japan, the Dalai Lama is set to deliver speeches around Japan, including one to a Buddhist convention in Yokohama, near Tokyo, next Tuesday.

The Asahi newspaper reported that Japan, eager to improve relations with China strained by a number of issues including their wartime past, was not offering security guards or police escorts for the Dalai Lama for much of his trip.

REUTERS PD RN1541

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