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5november20092Naha, Japan: During his first ever visit to Japan's southern islands of Shikoku and Okinawa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama clarified his views on Tibetan autonomy and stressed the need to overcome the "senselessness" of war through compassion and a sense of global responsibility.

On 3 November, His Holiness told local media at the Funaya Hotel in Matsuyama, the capital of Shikoku, that, "I am not demanding independence for Tibet. I am seeking only genuine autonomy, as enshrined in the constitution of the People's Republic of China."

Tibet's exiled leader reaffirmed his hope in the Chinese people, as opposed to the Communist government. He expressed optimism at the fact that in the past year, Chinese scholars and intellectuals have published more and more articles criticizing China's policies in Tibet.

Later that day, His Holiness gave a public lecture on "The ways of leading a happy life" to an audience of 5300 at Ehime Budokan Stadium. His Holiness stressed that it is essential to develop compassion as well as "a sense of global responsibility and a holistic point of view" to confront the challenges of war and conflict.

On 4 November, in Okinawa's capital city of Naha, His Holiness offered prayers at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park for those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

"We must remember that for each of those who died during the war, their life was as dear to them as our life is to us. These reckless killings must remind us that war is senseless," he urged. "Only praying and wishing for a world without problems is unrealistic. We must learn from our sad experiences and promote the spirit of dialogue."

The Nobel Peace laureate then planted a tree in the Okinawa Mahabodhi garden to commemorate the lives of 150,000 "brothers and sisters" who died during the 82-day long World War II battle.

He declared his "full support" for US President Obama's proposal for nuclear disarmament, calling this an important "first step" in reducing global violence.

"It may not be achieved in our lifetime, but we must leave a blueprint to the next generation for complete demilitarization of the whole world," he stated.

Today, His Holiness is scheduled to give a public speech in Naha on "peace and a compassionate mind".

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