Guam - During a hearing the nation's capitol today Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo once again made a push for war reparations. As the island commemorates its 69th anniversary of the liberation of Guam, it is yet another year the survivors of the atrocities that occurred during the Japanese occupation have waited for war reparations.
"Bringing resolution to a painful chapter in Guam's history is critical," said Bordallo. She testified today before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013. "Of particular importance to the people of Guam is Section 12, the text of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act," she said.
Bordallo, as she and her predecessors have done so many times before, explained Guam's story and its long battle for war claims. She told the story of the Guam War Claims Commission which was created by the 107th Congress and the report it issued nine years ago finding that there were significant disparities in the treatment of war claims for the people of Guam as compared with war claims for other Americans. That same report she told the Senate panel found that occupation of Guam was especially brutal due to unfailing loyalty of the people of Guam to the United States of America.
"The people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, forced marches, internment, beatings, rapes and executions, including public beheadings," she stated.
She answered the question as to why Japan is not paying war claims, Bordallo said the US signed a treaty of peace with Japan in 1951 precluding Americans from making claims against Japan for reparations. "The treaty closed any legal mechanism for seeking redress from the government of Japan, and the United States government has settled claims for US citizens and other nationals through various claims programs authorized by Congress," she said.
In the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013 is an offset to pay for the war claims. As we reported Bordallo has proposed using Section 30 monies above Fiscal Year 2012 levels to pay for war reparations despite concerns from the local community. "They recognized that we must overcome budget objections that have stymied this bill. Our community recognizes that we must solve this matter once and for all by passing this authorization to bring justice and closure for the people of Guam," Bordallo said.
Bordallo says the Section 30 offset is being used a place holder for the Administration to work with Congress in funding this requirement. She adds she intends to seek subsequent appropriations from the Obama Administration should the authorization pass so that Guam's Section 30 monies which are intended to address local needs will continue to be made available to the Government of Guam.
The Guam War Claims Provision also contains language about a compromise which removes payment of claims to heirs of survivors who suffered personal injury during the occupation. The provision also continues to provide payment of claims to survivors as well as to heirs of citizens of Guam who died during the occupation.
The congresswoman meanwhile also testified on S.1268 otherwise referred to as the Palau Compact Renewal which has lingered in Congress over four years. Bordallo said that is simply unacceptable.
"U.S. Public Law 100-383 provided a provision for to pay restitution to civilian Japanese American Citizens and Nationals in America who were interned during the conflict," wrote Speaker Judi Won Pat. "In 2009, President Barack Obama established the WWII Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with nearly $200 million in funds to compensate Filipino soldiers who fought alongside American soldiers."