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Recapping Kitazawa's visit

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by John Davis

Japan's Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa was on-island to discuss alternative options to American military bases in Japan.  More particularly, to find out whether military personnel currently stationed at Japan's Futenma Air Station can also be relocated to Guam, even though the original agreement between Japan and the United States government calls for Marines stationed on Futenma to be relocated to Kadena Air Base.  What does this mean for Guam?

Let's take a look.

The first thing we must remember is Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America and the U.S. federal government and its laws supercede the government of Guam and local Guam laws, which mean the federal government can impose its will on our island at a moments notice.  Whether it's a military buildup, a training exercise or military downsizing, Guam has no control over the federal government accomplishing its mission to increase military forces in the Western pacific Region.

According to federal government officials I have previously interviewed, the main reason why Guam has no say in military relocation negotiations is our people and our leaders have not made efforts towards Self Determination.  Even if the House of representatives gave their approval in funding the education portion of the campaign towards determining Guam's Political Status, the latest news out of Japan indicates Guam may have more visitors than our island can support if the military personnel stationed at Futenma are kicked out of Japan and moved to Guam. 

If this happens, the likelihood our people will vote on our Political Status will become a long shot, considering that a greater military presence on Guam will result in a smaller voice for the government of Guam.  All inadequacies aside, how can Kitazawa's courtesy visit become good for Guam?  I believe this visit is a perfect opportunity for our leaders to gain some confirmation on the upcoming Marine migration.

First, we need to figure out why the U.S. federal government has not closed Futenma down and why the Kadena Air Base is not an option for the relocation of Marines from Futenma.  We also need to find out what the major reasons are for the Japan government means by saying they want the Futenma base moved out of Okinawa or even out of Japan.  In the agreement between the U.S. and Japan that provided the avenue to downsize military personnel on Okinawa, the Futenma Air base was to be relocated to Kadena, if Japan seeks another alternative to Kadena, they will be in violation of their agreement with the United States Government signed in 2006. 

If Japan is violates the bilateral agreement, what repercussions will Japan likely be subject to? The U.S. military keeping the Marines in Okinawa?  It has been made clear the Japan government and the people of Japan do not want military presence in their country and they're willing to pay for it, but when all is said and done, what will Japan do for Guam after another U.S. military base is closed in Japan and opened on Guam?  Will they partner with the U.S. to pay for the needed upgrades to infrastructure, utilities and schools?  Didn't think so.

Officials from the Joint Guam Program Office and Japan Consulate said they could not disclose the details of Kitazawa's courtesy visit, I wonder why?  The reason they can't disclose the details is they just don't want to share information.  No one wants the people of Guam to know a Japan representative is meeting with U.S. representatives to discuss the closure of Futenma and relocation of personnel from Futenma to Guam. 

No one wants the people of Guam to know that if Futenma is closed and Kadena is not used, troops will be moved somewhere close to other troops and close to training facilities.  More importantly, no one wants the people of Guam to know that with the movement of military personnel form Futenma to Guam will result in more land being taken, more un-funded mandates on the people of Guam courtesy of the federal government and lastly, more unfair taxation without equal representation.

Guam leaders should petition the Japan government to include payments for War Reparations, payments for upgrades to utility, port and road infrastructure, as well as provide funding for social impacts this military buildup will have on Guam once Japan rids themselves of military forces stationed in the land of the rising sun.  I also believe another Environmental Impact Statement should be done and it should list realistic impacts and mitigation plans the military migration will have on Guam and its people.  Guam leaders should be given a seat at the table to ensure realistic solutions to these impacts, I wonder what they will do because we know they will at least say something, but measures like this require immediate action.

The views and opinions expressed in KUAM Columns do not necessarily reflect those of Pacific Telestations, Inc. or its advertisers.

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