TOKYO, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The Dalai Lama's warm and very public visit to Japan drew a sharp rebuke from China, government officials said.
More than 100 Japanese lawmakers from all the country's major political parties greeted the exiled Tibetan leader and Buddhist icon at a high-profile event Tuesday led by Shinzo Abe, opposition party leader and China hawk who is favored to become the country's next prime minister, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Dalai Lama encouraged Japanese leaders to visit Tibet and explore for themselves the reasons behind a recent rash of self-immolations. Even on Monday, two Buddhist priests set themselves on fire in protest over Chinese control of the mountainous country.
"Some narrow-minded communist officials feel that the Tibetan Buddhist culture, the Buddhist faith there ... is a source of danger of separation," he said.
Beijing responded sharply to what it said was an affront by the Japanese.
"We firmly oppose the provision of support by any country or any person for the Dalai Lama's anti-China separatist activities," spokesman Hong Lei said at a news briefing with China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Relations between the two countries have soured of late, starting with Japan nationalizing several small disputed islands in the South China Sea. China responded by refusing to attend a recent World Monetary Fund conference held in Tokyo and largely boycotting Japanese-made goods.