Uighur leader in Japan for support

TOKYO: Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer was in Japan Wednesday to urge global support for her "massacred" people following deadly unrest in western China, as Beijing pressed the United States to rein her in.

Kadeer, 62, the US-based head of the World Uighur Congress, said she would state the case of her mainly Muslim minority, after clashes in Xinjiang this month between Uighurs and Han Chinese that Beijing says left 197 people dead.

In a closed meeting with members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Kadeer reiterated her claim that the true death toll across the remote western region was in the thousands, the Nikkei daily said in an online report.

Kadeer was due to give a press conference in Tokyo at 0500 GMT.

Beijing accuses the mother-of-11 of being a "criminal" who instigated the violence and has strongly protested against Japan for granting her a visa while also pressing the United States and other countries to shun her.

China's foreign ministry on Monday expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with Japan for allowing entry to Kadeer, who spent around six years in a Chinese prison before being released under US pressure in 2005.

Japan's top government spokesman, Takeo Kawamura, said Tuesday that Kadeer's visit "was organised by civil groups, not an event by the government."

"We don't consider that her visit to Japan itself will negatively impact the Japan-China relationship," Kawamura told a regular press briefing.

Foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama told AFP that Kadeer was granted a visa in line with Japanese laws and procedures, and stressed that no Japanese government officials had plans to meet her.

Kadeer -- who was greeted on arrival Tuesday by a small group of supporters waving the blue flags of East Turkestan, as they call Xinjiang -- said she would state her people's case during her three-day visit.

"My aim in visiting Japan is for the Japanese people to understand how terribly our people are being massacred and repressed," Kadeer said, according to a translation given to AFP by Ilham Mahmut of the Japan Uighur Association.

"I hope Japan's government and people will help us escape these severe conditions. In future, I hope many other countries will also approve my visits so that I can work on promoting people's understanding about the Uighurs."

China on Tuesday blocked the signal of Japanese broadcaster NHK when it showed footage of Kadeer's arrival at Tokyo's Narita airport, Kyodo News reported.

Beijing has also campaigned for other countries to deny Kadeer a platform.

In Washington, China's vice foreign minister Wang Guangya on Tuesday said his side had asked the United States to "restrain and prevent" anyone from using its soil to conduct "separatist activities against China."

In Australia, Melbourne International Film Festival director Richard Moore this week accused Chinese officials of trying to bully him into pulling a documentary about her called "Ten Conditions of Love."

Kadeer, meanwhile drew support from another figure who has long been a thorn in Beijing's side, the Dalai Lama, who told an audience in Warsaw that, like him, Kadeer believed in non-violence and was not seeking a separate state.

Speaking on the Xinjiang situation, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader added: "Using force, this will never bring genuine harmony. Harmony must come based on trust, and trust you cannot bring by a gun."