Around 200 ethnic Uyghurs from around the world gathered have gathered in Tokyo for a five-day meeting to press their case for independence from China.
Many Uyghurs complain that they are the victims of state-sanctioned persecution and marginalization in their homeland in northwest China, aided by the migration of millions of Han Chinese into the territory.
The exiled head of the World Uyghur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer, told those assembled that Beijing's policy of "forcible assimilation" was unacceptable in a modern democracy.
Kadeer said participants from more than 20 countries were at the meeting, which she said was being held in "the most democratic country in Asia."
Based on reporting by AFP