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Beijing, July 17 Kyodo - Chinese public security authorities have asked Japan to provide information on Japan-based members of the Falun Gong, a spiritual group banned in China, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, sources close to Japan-China ties said Thursday.
The Japanese government has rejected the request, which included a list of the group's members, citing protection of information on individuals, according to the sources.
Chinese authorities see potential demonstrations by the Falun Gong as a major security threat during the Summer Games, along with possible separatist activities by Uighur nationalists from Xinjiang, a predominantly Muslim area of northwest China.
The Falun Gong, which criticizes China through peaceful demonstrations, is not an illegal organization in Japan.
Chinese authorities believe that Falun Gong members are the biggest threat among Japanese tourists, who will be able to visit China without visas during the Olympics.
China extends 15-day visa-free access for ordinary passport holders from Japan.
While Beijing had extended the same access for Singapore passport holders, it had temporarily halted the arrangement ahead of the Olympics.
China also allows short-term visa-free access for Brunei passport holders, but that country's population is small. Japan remains the only country from where a large number of tourists are expected to arrive in China without visas during the Olympics.
Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 1042 17 Jul 08.
(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.
Story Source: BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific