More Marines coming to Guam? Japan wants to make it official. - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

More Marines coming to Guam? Japan wants to make it official.

by John Davis

Guam - New stories coming out of the Japan Media report Japan's Social Democratic Party is pushing not just for the relocation of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, but also for the complete closure of the Futenma Air Base and relocation of at Least 2,000 additional military personnel and 3,000 dependents to Guam.

The Futenma Air Base is located in the center of Ginowan City, which lies just north of the Okinawan military base where the first surge of military personnel will come from during the Guam buildup.  The Futenma Air Base covers 480 hectares or 1,200 acres, which makes up a quarter of land in Ginowan City.  The 2006 plan negotiated between the United States government and the Japan government included relocating Marines from Okinawa to Guam and the closure of Futenma and it's relocation to an existing Marine base called Camp Schwab, which lies a few hundred meters away from the current Futenma base location.  Did you see this coming?  I did.

Exactly a month ago, I wrote an article called "Recapping Kitazawa's visit."  In that article I basically explained how the visit of Japan's Prime Minister of Defense, Toshimi Kitazawa was on Guam to test the waters and find out whether or not moving Marines stationed at he Futenma Air Base would be plausible.  Well, apparently now it is, as a leading Japan media agency NHK is now reporting the JSDP panel is saying one possible location for the Futenma Air Base is Guam.  Japan Leaders are now confirming what I have been saying for a month now.  NHK also reports that the final decision on relocating the Futenma Air Base north of Okinawa or completely out of Japan and to Guam will be made by May 2010.  Where does that leave the people of Guam?  Lets take a look.

1)   It's obvious that if Futenma is closed and military personnel are relocated to Guam, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement will have to be redone.  By the time May 2010 rolls around, the open comment period on the DEIS will have been completed for 3 months.  If the Futenma Air base personnel is relocated to Guam, they will not be staying in the ocean on a warship, or maybe a transient aircraft carrier and they won't be staying on a floating aerial Marine Base because they don't exist.  These additional unwanted military migrants will stay on Guam land, eat food brought into Guam and possibly meet and greet the young chamorrita's as they intermingle with Guam's community.  If military personnel are relocated from Futenma to Guam, there will be additional environmental impacts, which I believe prompts a redo of the 200 million dollar Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

2)   The cost of the military buildup will increase at least by half. The current price tag to relocate Marines from one Okinawa military base to Guam is steady at 10.2 billion dollars, but if there's a relocation of an additional 2,000 Futenma personnel and 3,000 dependents, the price tag for the total Guam buildup related to additional bodies could easily increase another 2 billion dollars, not including additional construction or other upgrades needed to make the move happen.  Who will fund this?  It's bad enough there is no realistic funding for upgrades needed on Guam related to the first surge of the buildup, but relocating additional military forces to Guam will require our government to bear the financial burden for additional road projects, utility and port upgrades, as well as, having to fund an increase in public services even though Guam residents aren't the main cause for the increase in population.

3)   The federal government is currently looking into acquiring 2,200 acres of Guam land to construct training facilities and military housing areas.  If Futenma is relocated to Guam, Guam land taken for federal government use will double.  The price the military has agreed to pay when purchasing, leasing or acquiring property is set at fair market value, but who dictates what fair market value prices are for land on Guam?  According to real estate professionals, when the federal government says they will pay fair market value for land sold, leased or acquired they really mean the feds will only pay fair market value compared to land in the U.S. mainland, which really means the federal government will dictate how much they will pay to buy, lease or acquire Guam land.  On top of that, the Futenma Air Base occupies 1,200 acres of land in Japan, if the feds are looking to acquire 2,200 acres of Guam land for the first surge of the military buildup and a second Futenma facility has to be built, then the total amount of acreage the federal government is looking to acquire on Guam totals 3,300 acres.  That's 3,300 acres of Guam land that our people do not want to give up.  How will a win-win situation regarding land acquisition between Guam and the federal government be reached?  It's sad to say, but the federal government will end up taking the land for their use because they can.

The talking points I have listed in this article don't even scratch the surface of additional impacts that will be placed on the people of Guam and Guam land.  We as people have the right to voice our concerns loudly to promote action beneficial to our people.  We must not give up the fight for equal treatment because if we stand aside, our future, our children's future and their children's future will be lost because we as people did not stand up to the federal government.  The same government that came into our homes in the early 1900's left us behind in the mid 1900's and continues to step on us in the new millennium.

Although the last public hearing on the DEIS will be held tonight, I encourage all who didn't have a chance to attend, who couldn't stay within 3 minutes, who couldn't keep their emailed testimony to 2500 characters to submit written testimony on the DEIA via snail mail.  We have until February 17th to provide comments on the DEIS, I will definitely be sending in my written testimony regarding the DEIS and I plan to include my concerns about a possible relocation of the Futenma Air base to Guam.  Join me; we are one island, one voice, and one people.  We are one band and if we all come together, we as people can make one loud sound I believe the federal government will finally be able to hear.

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

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