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Tibetan Scholar Seeks Parliament Seat in Japan


A Tibetan political scholar based in Japan has won endorsement from the governor of Tokyo for his parliamentary candidacy.

Pema Gyalpo, professor of international relations at Japan's Toin University of Yokohama, is seeking a seat in the upper house of the Japanese parliament the House of Councillors in balloting next Sunday July 22.

The 54-year-old Gyalpo, a resident of Japan since childhood, is a respected political figure in his adopted country, where he is a constitutional adviser to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He supports revising Japan's pacifist constitution to allow expansion of the country's military; that stance was applauded by Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintara as he endorsed Gyalpo's candidacy recently.

Constitutional reform is a hotly debated issue in Japan at present. To allay concerns about a sharp growth in military influence, Gyalpo says any constitutional changes must also provide for the country's elected civilian authorities' continuing control of the armed forces. He told VOA earlier this year that Japan should broaden its military capabilities so it can take a larger role in world politics, and also as a counter to China's rapidly growing military might.

The 54-year-old political scholar has served in the past as the Dalai Lama's representative to Japan and to a wide area of Asia. He also is a founding member of the Dalai Lama Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit group that promotes the study of ethics and peace.

Gyalpo was nominated for a six-year term in the House of Councillors by the tiny opposition People's New Party. Another PNP candidate in this month's election is the former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, who says he is confident of victory, although he is currently held under house arrest in Santiago Chile.

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