Dalai prays for quake-tsunami victims in Japan
A magnitude-9 quake and tsunami devastated Japan, leaving nearly 30,000 people dead.
Tokyo/Fukushima: On his first visit to Japan since last month's mega-quake and tsunami, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Friday offered prayers at a Buddhist temple for victims of the disaster that crippled a nuclear plant and claimed thousands of lives, and encouraged survivors to look to the future with full confidence.
The 75-year-old monk, on his way to the US, prayed at Gokokuji temple in Tokyo for an hour, seven weeks after a magnitude-9 quake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeast leaving nearly 30,000 people dead or unaccounted for.
His prayers for the victims came a day after Buddhist priests in black and gold robes chanted and rang bells to mark the 49th day since the twin disaster. Buddhist services are normally held to mark the day in the belief that it is when the souls of the dead depart for another world.
The Dalai, who announced last month that he wanted to shed his political role in the Tibetan government-in-exile, told the Japanese people not to feel discouraged and look to the future with full confidence.
Around 3,000 people had converged at the temple to hear the Dalai.
The Dalai's visit to Japan en route to his 15-day US tour came as the government here grappled with the aftermath of the March 11 disaster.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said the situation at the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan's northeast has "definitely improved" but still requires close monitoring.
Commission members met in Washington yesterday to assess the nuclear emergency in Japan.
One of the members said that US nuclear experts continue to provide support in Japan, adding that private US companies have joined the effort, national broadcaster NHK reported.
The commission members will meet again on May 12 and issue a short-term analytical report on the Fukushima plant.
They also discussed how to deal with possible loss of external power at nuclear power stations in the United States.
Meanwhile, bullet train services on the disaster-stricken Tohoku Shinkansen Line fully resumed between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori today for the first time in 50 days since last month's mega quake and tsunami, Kyodo news agency reported.
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