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Dalai Lama urges Japan lawmakers to visit Tibet
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 13, 2012


China anti-Japan protest damage may be over $100m
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 13, 2012 - Anti-Tokyo riots that shook Chinese cities in September could have cost Japanese firms more than $100 million over the last two months, according to new government estimates.

The cost includes the vandalism of buildings and other physical damage, as well as the indirect effects such as reduced sales, the foreign ministry said in a report released this week.

It does not include the effects of a consumer boycott on Japan-brand goods that has badly hit auto and electronics makers.

"The total sum of damage now stands at between several billion yen and about 10 billion yen ($126 million)," a foreign ministry official said, adding it was still a rough estimate.

Hearings have been held with dozens of companies to arrive at the amount, he said.

The riots erupted after Tokyo nationalised three disputed islands in the East China Sea, which it controls under the name Senkakus, but which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus. Japanese nationals, businesses and diplomatic missions were targeted.

Department store Heiwado suffered 1.8 billion yen of losses, and was forced to suspend operations for one-and-a-half months.

The Aeon group incurred a loss of 700 million yen because of the destruction of a supermarket, the Asahi daily said.

Earlier this month, Toyota said it expects to sell 200,000 fewer vehicles in China in the second half of its fiscal year and take a 30 billion yen hit to its bottom line because of tumbling demand from Chinese consumers.

Honda cut its full-year sales forecast in China to 620,000 vehicles, from 750,000 units, while rival Nissan said it now expects to sell about 1.18 million vehicles in China, down from a previous target of 1.35 million units.

The Dalai Lama urged Japanese lawmakers Tuesday to visit Tibet to find out the reasons for a spate of self-immolations, after Beijing accused him of instigating the deadly protests against Chinese rule.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was addressing around 130 parliamentarians including Shinzo Abe, a former premier who is seen as a favourite to retake the role in forthcoming general elections.

The welcome rolled out for the Dalai Lama -- albeit a non-governmental one -- earned Japan a rebuke from Beijing for giving succour to a man they say is a dangerous separatist.

"I request some parliamentary groups, 'Visit Tibet'," including areas where Tibetans have died in "very sad" self-immolations, the Dalai Lama told the meeting in Japan's diet, or parliament.

"Perhaps the (Chinese) authorities, leaders of China, I think, may get the true picture" of self-immolations if foreign lawmakers report what is actually happening there, the 77-year-old added.

Two Tibetans died in separate self-immolations Monday, taking to nine the number of people who have set themselves on fire in the last week in protest at Chinese rule.

Reports of their deaths came hours after the Dalai Lama urged the Chinese government seriously to investigate the incidents, saying it is more interested in criticising him than finding the reason behind them.

In response, China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei accused the spiritual leader Monday of encouraging the suicides, saying he was sacrificing lives "to achieve his goal of Tibetan independence".

On Tuesday Hong rounded on Tokyo for giving the saffron-robed monk a platform.

"China is firmly opposed to any country or any person's supporting the Dalai's separatist activities in any way," he said.

"Japanese right-wing forces have been blatantly supporting Dalai's anti-China separatist activities and interfering in China's internal affairs, which China strongly condemns.

"The Japanese government has been conniving at the separatist activities of the Dalai Lama and the anti-China activities of Japan's right-wing, which goes against the principle and spirit of China-Japan strategic relations of mutual benefit."

The immolations have gained pace in recent months in the run-up to the Communist Party congress, which started on Thursday in Beijing.

Ahead of the Dalai Lama's speech, Abe, the front-runner in the race to become prime minister in upcoming general elections, called on fellow lawmakers to use diplomatic means to help stop the immolations.

"I promise to continue to support Tibet and do my best to change the situation in Tibet in which (people) are oppressed," the hawkish conservative said.

The lawmakers adopted a statement strongly urging China to improve its "unlawful suppression of human rights against Tibetans and Uighurs".

Tokyo formally recognises Beijing's position that Tibet is a part of China and the government bars its officials from meeting the Dalai Lama during his frequent visits.

Abe's stance will likely come under scrutiny for its possible implications for Sino-Japanese relations, already strained by a row over the sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea.

burs-hg/pj

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