Rev Mizutani Eikan and Itoh Einin of JBCWF with Representative Dr Arya Tsewang Gyalpo. Photo: Office of Tibet, Japan

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Tokyo – Japanese Buddhist Conference for the World Federation issued a statement saying that the Tibetan people should decide the successor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on the basis of Tibetan culture and history, not China. it said: 'We, the monks of Japan, believe that Tibetan people must decide upon the next successor based on their Tibetan Buddhist culture and history. China (PRC) is communist and based on non-religious principles. It is contradictory to let people who do not believe in religion decide who is the religious leader of the country.'

Representatives of the Japan Buddhist Conference for World Federation (JBCWF), Mizutani Eikan, General Secretary, and Itoh Einin, visited the Office of Tibet, Japan on January 24, 2023, and met with Representative Dr Arya Tsewang Gyalpo. Reverend Mizutani Eikan handed over to the Representative the original statement in Japanese that, they had recently issued a statement condemning China for interfering in the selection of Tibetan incarnate Lamas and for claiming the authority to name the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama. He also explained that the Conference members had met and discussed this issue some time ago.

The Japanese Buddhist Conference for World Federation is an umbrella organisation for a number of sects of Japanese Buddhism, with millions of followers in Japan and other countries. In its letter, it strongly opposes China's continued interference in religious and spiritual matters of Tibet.

The statement says, “We, the Japanese Buddhist, believe that the Tibetans should decide the succession of the Dalai Lama based on Tibetan Buddhist culture and history. The national policy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is communism, and communism is based on the principle of non-religion. Therefore, it is a contradiction to allow people who don’t believe in religion to decide who the country’s religious leader will be.”

“This is a total insult to the religious community worldwide, especially Buddhists. The members have decided that time is ripe to issue a statement to make our stance clear and request the Chinese authority to let the Tibetans practice religion freely and stop interfering in the selection of the next Dalai Lama,” said Mizutani, the general secretary of Japan Buddhist Conference for World Federation.

Reverend Mizutani Eikan further said, “the monks and people of Japan have great respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, Japanese people will never accept any Dalai Lama appointed by the Chinese communist leadership."

According to the Office of Tibet, Japan, Representative Dr Arya Tsewang Gyalpo welcomed the initiative taken by the delegation to express its concern and urge the Chinese authorities not to interfere in Tibetan religious affairs. He added that this would serve as a warning to the Chinese leadership that the whole world is watching and would encourage other religious bodies to make such a statement in order to deter Communist China from interfering in Tibetan religious affairs with impunity.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has visited Japan twenty-four times and transited the country sixteen times. Most of the visits were at the invitations from Japanese monasteries and Buddhist federations. The Japanese Sangha members and lay people have greatly appreciated his teachings on love, compassion, and non-violence.

The Indian Himalayan Council of Nalanda Buddhist Traditions held a meeting in New Delhi and passed a resolution on the reincarnation of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on December 20, 2022, in New Delhi, India. The resolution states, " If the government of the People's Republic of China, for political ends, chooses a candidate for the Dalai Lama, the people of the Himalayas will never accept it, never pay devotional obeisance to such a political appointee and publicly denounce such a move by anyone."

Top Tibetan religious leaders representing all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism attended the 14th Tibetan Religious Conference at the seat of the Tibetan Government in-Exile in Dharamshala in northern India on November 27, 2019. The delegates at the conference issued a formal statement on the matter of the Dalai Lama lineage in the “Dharamshala Declaration,” composed of the following resolutions:

  • The Karmic bond between the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people have been inseparable and the present status of the Tibetan people being extremely critical, all Tibetans genuinely wish for the continuation of the Institution and Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama in the future. We therefore strongly supplicate to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama for the same.
  • The authority of decision concerning the way and the manner in which the next reincarnation of the XIV Dalai Lama should appear solely rests with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama himself. No government or otherwise will have such authority. If the Government of the People’s Republic of China for political ends chooses a candidate for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people will not recognize and respect that candidate. 
  • Regarding the method of recognizing the future reincarnations of the Dalai Lama, the same unique Tibetan traditional method, which has been continuously used until now, will be followed. This method conforms to be basic philosophy and tenets of the Buddhadharma and originated in Tibet over 800 years ago.

The Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace adopted the Colombo Resolution, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on January 14, 2021, concerning the future status of the Dalai Lama institution:

(i) To continue the Institution and Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama in the future;

(ii) The incumbent XIV Dalai Lama to be the sole authority of how the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should return, and the Tibetan people never to recognize any Dalai Lama reincarnation candidate chosen and installed by the Chinese government; and

(iii) To employ the eight centuries old unique Tibetan traditional method in searching and recognizing the next Dalai Lama.

In 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama states: “Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognised through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.”