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Japan: Buddhist Temple Refuses To Host China Olympic Torch, Event Starting Venue Forced To Change

Posted by Author on April 19, 2008

AFP, Apr. 18, 2008-Zenkoji Temple, Japan

TOKYO (AFP) — Monks at an ancient Japanese Buddhist temple on Friday pulled out of hosting a ceremony for the protest-marred Olympic torch relay because of China’s crackdown in Tibet.

Organisers of the Japanese leg of the global tour have been forced to change the starting point after Zenkoji Temple said it would no longer welcome the torch, which has been dogged by protests since it was lit in Greece last month.

(Photo: Zenkoji Temple, Japan/ AFP)

“Tibetan religious leaders stood up but (China) is cracking down on them,” Shinsho Wakaomi, a senior official at the temple, told a press conference in the city of Nagano, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the temple’s decision was “unfortunate because it is something for everyone to enjoy.

“I want the (relay) organisers to make sure there will be few problems,” he added.

The temple, which rang bells for the opening ceremonies for the 1998 Nagano Games as well as for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, had “fondly accepted” an invitation last year to host the ceremony on April 26, another temple official told AFP.

“But the situation has changed,” the official said. “Monks here are very concerned” about what happened in Tibet.

Zenkoji, which was built in the seventh century and draws six million visitors every year, said it had received many phone calls urging it not to host the ceremony.

Local government official Kunihiko Shinohara said he was “shocked” by the temple’s move.

But he added: “We respect the decision by Zenkoji and will change the starting venue.”

Japan, which has said it opposes letting China send guards to protect the Olympic flame when it arrives, has already cancelled a public celebration linked to the relay due to security concerns.

The government indicated that it would not get involved in the relay route, saying it was an issue for the Nagano authorities and the International Olympic Committee.

“It is not a matter in which the government would intervene,” top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

The torch, whose journey before the Beijing Games in August has turned into a public relations headache for China’s leaders, arrived in Thailand on Friday from India, where many protesters were arrested.

A crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet has put the spotlight on China’s heavily criticised record on human rights and triggered demonstrations at many of the torch’s stops, notably London and Paris.

The three corporate sponsors of the Japanese leg — the local arms of Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung — said Friday they would not send advertising vehicles to accompany the relay although they denied any link to Tibet.

Coca-Cola had intended to send a sales promotion car with its red corporate logo but has now abandoned the plan, a company spokesman said.

“We were told that the motorcade will be very long due to security reasons, which will reduce the effectiveness of our promotion activity,” he said, adding that the decision was “nothing to do” with Tibet.

Lenovo said its decision not to mobilise a promotion vehicle was made in March “due to budgetary reasons.”

Tibetan exiles in India say more than 150 Tibetans have been killed in China’s crackdown on the protests against its rule of the Himalayan region. Beijing says Tibetan “rioters” have killed 20 people.

The temple’s decision to refuse the Olympic flame came during a visit to Japan by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who on Thursday rebuffed Japanese pressure over Tibet, reiterating that Beijing sees it as an internal matter.

Original report from AFP: Japanese temple refuses to host Olympic torch

One Response to “Japan: Buddhist Temple Refuses To Host China Olympic Torch, Event Starting Venue Forced To Change”

  1. PEGASUS said

    Adding the Fuel of cooperation to the Fire of independence

    Dear every person who struggle for independence all over the world.
    The Ireland people
    The Scotland people
    The Chechen people
    The Nagorno-Karabakh people
    The Abkhazia people
    The South Ossetia people
    Etc.

    Are you going to leave Tibetan the bag to hold?
    Your supports are indispensable for Tibetan.

    Please remember a strike by WGA (Writers Guild of America) from 2007 to 2008.
    SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, etc cooperated WGA on this strike.
    WGA succeeded to strike a new bargain with AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers).
    It seems that the cooperation between WGA, SAG and International Brotherhood of Teamsters forced AMPTP to appease.
    This is the victory to the cooperation between WGA, SAG and International Brotherhood.

    Isn’t it possible that this case set as a success model, and that apply this to your independence movement?

    In 2012 the Olympic Games will hold in London.
    In 2014 the Olympic Games will hold in Sochi.

    In this time, by your cooperation with Tibetan independence movement, there is a possibility that Tibetan cooperate on your independence movement?

    In 2012 on Northern Ireland and Scotland,
    In 2014 on Chechen、Nagorno-Karabakh、Abkhazia、South Ossetia

    On this Tibet protests, Tibetan got sympathy of International Community.
    If you can set Tibetan cooperation, they should be a strong all of your independence movement.

    This Tibet protests is a chance for your independence movement, isn’t this?
    How about independence movements establish friendly relations, through cooperation with Tibetan?
    It is not loss for you to cooperate with Tibet protests and appeal your presence, isn’t it?

    It is double standard to back Tibet protests, and not to back another independence movement.
    International Community ought not to be able to oppose independence movement except for Tibet protests, isn’t it?

    Are independence movements all over the world only sitting back the fight of Tibetan?
    Independence movement all over the world should help Tibet protests, shouldn’t it?
    Tibetan is your companion.

    Are you going to leave Tibetan the bag to hold?
    Your supports are indispensable for Tibetan.

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