According to centuries of Tibetan Bud-dhist tradition, the search for the reincarnation of spiritual leaders or lamas has been carried out postmortem by monks.
“The Tibetan people would not support a successor selected by China after my death,” the Dalai Lama said in an interview on a trip to Japan. “If the Tibetan people wish to uphold the Dalai Lama system, one possibility would be to select the next Dalai Lama while I am still living...Among options being considered are a democratic selection by the high monks of Tibetan Buddhism, or the appointment of a successor by myself.”
The Dalai Lama says he wants “real auto-nomy” for Tibet, not independence. He has lived with followers in exile in India since fleeing Chinese soldiers in 1959. He came to Japan for a nine-day visit but has been snubbed by Japanese officials trying to improve relations with China.