Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bevacqua: Say it the Chamorro way

My column last week focused on the need to rethink the ways we talk about the Chamorro language and what we consider to really be Chamorro or not really be Chamorro. The idea that certain words that Chamorros use aren’t really “Chamorro” because they come via Spanish may make sense in casual conversation, but is at odds with how languages work. Languages adapt and change, sometimes for tragic reasons like colonization or imperialism, but they also change in less traumatic circumstances. It’s a natural feature of languages for them to change.
The presence of Spanish in the Chamorro language is not something we should spend too much time lamenting. One reason why I advocate this is because of the way Spanish terms that have been adapted into Chamorro create new layers and possibilities for expression in Chamorro. For instance, there are ways in which you can express yourself in Chamorro that use a great deal of Spanish terms, but there also are ways where you can use more of the Austronesian roots of Chamorro.

Pedophile sting ops roil U.S. forces on Okinawa

Controversial operations in which sailors pose online as underage girls lead to dozens of NCIS arrests

BY 
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
Since 2015, at least 36 U.S. service members on Okinawa have been arrested in child sex stings operated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Those detained have belonged to all branches of the military — with marines in the majority — and their ranks have ranged from private to lieutenant colonel. Typically they have received sentences of between two and three years in military prison, and upon their release they will be required to register as sex offenders in the United States.
Details of the operations were revealed by two American lawyers — Timothy J. Bilecki and Stephen H. Carpenter Jr. — who have represented some of those service members arrested. Both lawyers have criticized the methods employed by the U.S. Navy’s law enforcement agency.
According to Honolulu-based Bilecki, in the operations, NCIS agents task female sailors with posting messages online, including in the personals section of Craigslist and on the Whisper messaging app. After being contacted by service members, the sailors pose as bored young women, engage in sexually provocative chat and, at some point during the conversations, they describe their ages as 14 or 15 years old. NCIS agents arrest the service members when they go to meet the females in person — either at a house temporarily leased to the NCIS within Kadena Air Base or an ice cream shop in American Village, a popular tourist area in Chatan Town.

Record damages awarded over US army base noise in Japan

AFP

Tokyo: A Japanese court on Thursday awarded record compensation for thousands of residents near a US military base over aircraft noise, but rejected their demand to suspend flights at odd hours.

An Okinawa court ordered the Japanese government to pay 30.19 billion yen ($266 million) in damages to about 22,000 residents near Kadena Air Base -- more than three times the highest previous award over military noise.

Presiding Judge Tetsuya Fujikura rapped the government, saying the noise burden on residents had continued despite a separate 2009 ruling calling for improvement.

Japan gov't pays record amount in damages to Okinawa plaintiffs in U.S. base noise suit

TOKYO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Residents living near the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture have won the largest-ever amount of compensation from the central Japanese government related to a suit over excessive noise connected to a military base.
The plaintiffs were collectively awarded 30.2 billion yen (266 million U.S. dollars) in damages by the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court, which ruled that illegal damage had been left unresolved by the U.S. and Japanese governments.
"The U.S. and Japanese governments have not taken fundamental prevention measures and illegal damage has been aimlessly left unresolved," the branch was quoted as saying in handing down its ruling.
The lawsuit for excessive noise from the base was filed in 2011 by 22,000 residents, the largest-ever for such a lawsuit, but an additional petition to ban flights from the base between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. was turned down by the court.

Congressional delegation to visit Guam this week

A congressional delegation will visit Guam from [Feb. 23] to Feb. 25, according to Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo's office. 
The codel will be led by U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. The visiting team will focus on meetings with local officials "to better understand local issues that come before the House Natural Resources Committee," according to a release.
"The (congressional delegation) will also visit military installations on Guam and understand current operations as well as meet with other federal entities that fall under the committee’s jurisdiction," the release stated.

PACOM Commander Harris Wants the Army to Sink Ships, Expand Battle Networks

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific called for tighter integration of joint forces, to include Army units tapping into Navy battle networks to help go after complex targets.
For starters, U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris said he’d like the Army to develop a native anti-ship capability.
“Before I leave PACOM, I’d like to see the Army’s land forces conduct exercises to sink a ship in a complex environment where our joint and combined forces are operating in other domains,” Harris said during the West 2017 conference on Tuesday.
“Moving forward, all the services will have to exert influence in non-traditional and sometimes unfamiliar domains.” 

Former DOD comptroller: Be skeptical of military claims of readiness crisis

WASHINGTON – A former Defense Department comptroller said Tuesday the public should be skeptical of the dire warnings of a readiness crisis coming from the military this year.

 Robert Hale, who served under President Barack Obama, said the services do have some shortfalls but are likely putting their “worst foot forward” in hopes of scoring funding increases under the new administration, which has proposed a major defense buildup.

 The comments come after the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee recently blamed Obama administration officials for denying how thin and ill-prepared the military has become due to decreasing budgets in recent years.

 Earlier this month, vice chiefs for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps came to testify on Capitol Hill, and for the third year in a row painted an increasingly grim picture of grounded aircraft, units unready to fight and personnel shortages.

Obstructing Henoko base construction becomes pillar of Onaga administration’s 2017 objectives


February 16, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
At a regular meeting of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly on February 15, Governor Takeshi Onaga announced his administration’s 2017 objectives. He addressed the plan to construct a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station in Henoko, asserting that his administration will not allow the new base to be built, and will tirelessly pursue this as a pillar of its objectives. In terms of the economy, Onaga said his administration will strive for expansion and strengthening of leading industries such as tourism and telecommunications, setting a 2021 benchmark goal for gross prefectural product to reach 5 trillion 10 billion yen, and a goal of increasing Okinawans’ income.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chinese fear US military 'tightening the encirclement' of their country

America is forming military alliances with a lot of China’s neighbors, reinforcing the idea among many Chinese that the US presents a real threat to their country in more ways than one, says independent China strategist Andrew K.P. Leung.
A fleet of American warships was deployed in the South China Sea for what the US Navy called a routine patrol. This came two days after China finished similar exercises in the same waters where they claim sovereignty.
The US ships are now due to pass right by a series of contentious islands leading to tension between the two countries.
The South China Sea has a long history of maritime disputes. Beijing claims almost all its surrounding waters are sovereign, but many regional powers, as well as the US, disagree.
RT: The US continues to defend its maneuvers in the South China Seas as "peaceful surveillance and other military activities." What is their interest in this part of the world?

Andrew K.P. Leung:
 America has always prided herself as an Asian Pacific power. If you look at the dominance of the American military and then the involvement of American businesses – they have always been there in the Asia-Pacific. What is different now is that America is putting a lot more on the military in the sense of forming military allies with a lot of China’s neighbors and increasing the strength of what America calls the ‘freedom of navigation’ in sending warships and patrolling more and more international waters very near to the islands where China’s claimed sovereignty.
So, this is reinforcing the idea that the US is tightening the encirclement of China and of course, this is a very sensitive issue to China. It is not just a question of sovereignty, it is also because of the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific, it is very important conduit for trade and the importation of energy on which China’s economic survival and indeed regime stability depends.
I think there is a lot of at stake on China’s side. But as far as America is concerned, it wants to maintain its dominance and also maintain its leadership with its allies. So, I think that both sides need to manage the relationship. And on the other hand, apart from the military, the two countries are in many ways involved with one another, on trade, for example, America remains one of the largest markets for China.
RT: Mixed signals are coming from Donald Trump concerning China. He has made some very strong comments when talking about China. Are the Chinese upset with how Trump is handling bilateral relations thus far?
AL: I think that on the Taiwanese question, very quickly President Trump has backtracked from his challenge of the ‘One China’ policy and in his telephone call with President Xi he has already reaffirmed the ‘One China’ policy. This suggests that America doesn’t really want to go to war with China. Because this is a red line. It is not something negotiable; it is not something on the table. It is the table itself. The ‘One China’ policy is that important to China.
But on the other hand, the Trump administration seems to push the envelope further and further along with this “America first” strategy. That, of course, doesn’t tally with how the world works. If we look at trade, it is not just trade of one country to another or the products no matter what you have – your mobile phone, the clothes you wear, anything - China is embedded in it. And you can’t just slap tariffs on certain things without hurting the import of those components for your home production. So, I think the both sides need to manage the situation very carefully. 

Art of the deal

RT: Do you think Donald Trump will stick to the ‘One China policy’ or will he run the risk of conflict with China?
Ami Horowitz, political analyst: The great thing about Donald Trump is that you never know what he is going to do. That is kind of what he brings to the table. If you ask me what I think his game plan ultimately is here – I think it is within his book, The Art of the Deal. I think what he is looking to do actually is use the fact that he may look to backtrack off the ‘One China’ policy. Use that as a negotiating tactic to get what he wants trade-wise, possibly even militarily, getting them to push back from the Nin-Dash Line in terms of him solidifying and sticking with the ‘One China’ Policy. I think at the end of the day this is basically a negotiating ploy in policy for him. I think ultimately he will stick with the ‘One China’ policy, but get concessions from Beijing for that.
RT: Why did Trump send ships to the region? He knew it would elicit an angry reaction from Beijing...
AH: It is so funny hearing Beijing’s reactions to him doing that. They were scared he doesn’t do anything to upset their sovereignty. They don’t have sovereignty over those islands in the South China Sea outside of the territorial waters…He has every right to bring into the open seas any kind of commercial or military ships and vessels. So, it is insane for them to get upset about it. What they are doing by arming these islands in the South China Sea, trying to create that sea as essentially a swimming pool for China, that’s upsetting peoples’ sovereignty…

Former Guam resident wins compensation for Agent Orange exposure

The fight is ongoing to get compensation to those exposed to Agent Orange on Guam. Today, one local man also exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War is sharing how his long battle is finally over.
Putting on an Army uniform has become somewhat of a painful memory for Joey Cepeda. The retired GovGuam worker recalls his time in Korea between 1968 and 1970 during the Vietnam Conflict - the same time Agent Orange was being sprayed near the Korean DMZ. Cepeda told KUAM News, "The only thing that we noticed was the vegetation was down and it was kind of reddish."
It wasn't until decades later Cepeda says he learned about the negative effects from the chemical. - impacts that ultimately led to critical heart complications. He says he was forced to move to San Diego, California back in 2009 to get a heart transplant and for better healthcare.

Monday, February 20, 2017

South China Sea may see new waves as Carl Vinson begins patrolling

According to the US Navy, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson began patrols in the South China Sea amid tensions on Saturday. It arrived at Naval Base Guam on February 10 after leaving San Diego.

The aircraft carrier belongs to the US Navy Third Fleet, which is in charge of the East Pacific and North Pacific region since WWII. But it is now sent on missions to the western Pacific. This proves that the US military will increase its provocation and involvement in the South China Sea. But, it is uncertain what the degree, scale and way the US intervention in the region will be.

After Carl Vinson arrives in the western Pacific, it can get familiar with the maritime situation, which facilitates its cooperation with aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Yokosuka, Japan. These will contribute to the US' mission in this area.

Environmental Contamination at US Marine Corps Bases on Okinawa

Since 2002, at least 270 environmental accidents on U.S. Marine Corps bases on Okinawa have contaminated land and local waterways but, until now, almost none of these incidents has been made public. U.S. Marine internal reports highlight serious flaws in training and suggest that the lessons of past accidents have not been effectively implemented. Moreover, recent USMC guidelines order service members not to inform Japanese authorities of accidents deemed "politically sensitive", raising concerns that many incidents may have gone unreported.
Catalogued in 403 pages of USMC handbooks and reports obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the accidents occurred on three of the USMC's most important installations on Okinawa: MCAS Futenma, Camp Hansen and Camp Schwab. The earliest report is dated June 2002 and the most recent June 2016.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kim Jong-un reveals his colors one more time

In separate events only two days apart, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s impetuous young leader, yet again reminded the outside world of his determination to defy international norms by all available means. On February 12, with Kim present at the test site, the North successfully launched a Pukku’kso’ng-2 intermediate range ballistic missile, which it described as “a new strategic weapon of our own style.” The launching of a solid-fuel missile from a track-wheeled vehicle was not the widely anticipated test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea claims it could undertake at a moment’s notice. But it attested to important advances in the North’s ballistic missile capabilities, and to Kim’s continued ability to face down near-universal opposition to his weapons programs.

Author

The test of a mobile missile, a land-based version of a sea-launched missile first successfully tested last August, has a postulated ability to reach targets anywhere in South Korea or Japan. It is a more survivable weapons system capable of much more rapid firing than the liquid-fueled predecessors that have long dominated the North’s missile inventory. Equally or more important, North Korea claims the new missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, though this claim remains unproven.

Carl Vinson departs Guam

PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 departed Guam after a scheduled four-day port visit, Feb. 14.
While in Guam, Carl Vinson Sailors hosted distinguished visitors, toured local sites, and participated in community relations projects with various charitable organizations on the island.
Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1, Rear Adm. James Kilby said the port visit was a welcome opportunity for Sailors to recharge after weeks of constant training.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The US military is sending the big guns to South Korea

Days after North Korea tested a new, dangerous missile type and allegedly engaged agents to assassinate Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia, the US plans to send the big guns to the Pacific in a massive show of force.
The USS Carl Vinson has been making its way to the Pacific, and it will be joined by the world's most lethal combat plane, the F-22s, a nuclear-powered submarine, and possibly B-1 and B-2 nuclear-capable bombers.
"The two sides have agreed to send such weapons as the F-22 stealth fighter and a nuclear-powered submarine to the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises in March," a defense official told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency

GEPA to test for Agent Orange at the Ordot Dump, various military sites

GEPA says if any samples come up positive for Agent Orange, they will push for “cleanup and compensation.” 
Guam - The Guam EPA is moving forward with plans to test certain military owned areas as well as the Ordot Dump to find out if the herbicide Agent Orange was ever used on Guam.
Guam EPA administrator Walter Leon Guerrero says he is working with Department of Defense officials on testing soil alongside sites suggested to them by a small group of veterans, including retired Air Force Master Sergeant LeRoy Foster, who first spoke out about using Agent Orange on Guam. Leon Guerrero also says the Guam Waterworks Authority will be conducting water sampling on various production wells to find out if any traces of the herbicide in main water production wells. 
Guam EPA has already conducted routine testing of monitoring wells on Anderson Air Force Base. Leon Guerrero says there will be a total of 14 wells tested. But access to DoD sites are not guaranteed as the military has denied the use of Agent Orange on Guam saying they have no records to verify. In a letter to governor Eddie Calvo, Leon Guerrero says “I know there are concerns within the administration with regards to DOD access, but we have managed this in the past and will adhere to the same process.” Gov. Calvo was asked if he still shared those concerns about access to the base for soil sampling and water sampling.

Veterans assist with Agent Orange investigation

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency has obtained eight signed affidavits from veterans on the use of Agent Orange on Guam and will use these statements to determine where they should get testing, according to agency Administrator Walter Leon Guerrero.
Agent Orange was one of the “rainbow herbicides” used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Veterans who were exposed to the chemical state that they now suffer from debilitating diseases as a result.
The military has maintained that Agent Orange was never used on Guam.

Editorial: The 'really' Chamorro standard

Due to impact of colonization, cultural and societal change, the Chamorro language is declining in use. There are efforts to revitalize the language, but with each decade the census shows fewer and fewer speakers in the Marianas.
What is actively increasing are conversations, primarily in English, about the nature of the Chamorro language — its current state, opinions on what is appropriate and, most importantly, what words are really Chamorro and those that aren’t.
It’s intriguing the way your average Chamorro or non-Chamorro on Guam will casually discuss and doubt the existence of both the Chamorro language and the Chamorro people. They tie the existence of the Chamorro people and language to certain dates, certain tragedies of history and end up drawing lines whereby everything prior to a moment or an event is really Chamorro and everything that has come after is not. Even if Chamorros have used certain Spanish adapted words such as “potta” or “påle’” for hundreds of years, they aren’t "really" Chamorro.

U.S. government moves to pay Guam WWII reparations

HAGATNA, Guam--The U.S. federal government is moving forward with plans to pay claims to as many as 5,000 Guam residents and estates on behalf of those who experienced atrocities during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II.
A Department of Justice commission is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to begin collecting information from residents related to the war claims. A notice in the Federal Register says the information will be used by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to decide claims for compensation, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2kENkOf) Monday.
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December included reparations for those killed, injured or subjected to forced labor and other harmful acts by Japanese occupiers.

Woman opposes the bases despite having two former U.S. soldiers as sons-in-laws

February 8, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
Yoko Tabuki
One woman in her 60s has been making her way from Naha to attend protests in front of the U.S military base Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago. Her two daughters are married to former U.S. soldiers, one of which is currently employed as a civilian on one of the bases. The woman continues to participate in protests despite her family’s situation because of her mother, who had suffered through the Battle of Okinawa and suffered from it even after the war had ended. The woman is against the bases because she feels that they will lead to war. Her strong belief is clear in her words: “I will stop the construction of the base. I will not give up.”
The woman’s mother and grandmother frantically ran to escape the fires during the war. The woman’s grandmother later passed away from pneumonia. Traumatized by war, the woman’s mother was unable to tell anyone for 30 years that she did not shed a single tear even when her own mother had passed away. The woman said, “(Because of this,) my mother had suffered for the remainder of her life because she thought there was something wrong with herself.” It was war that had tortured her mother to the end of her days. Because of this, the woman’s resolve to never let war happen again eventually led to opposing the bases.
When her daughters were young, the woman would take them with her to participate in protests, like encircling the bases. However, her two daughters eventually married U.S. soldiers. The woman initially strongly opposed it, but ultimately allowed it since “individuals are not the same as organizations.”

2 maps that explain US strategy in Asia-Pacific

Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently wrapped up his first international trip whose purpose was to “listen to the concerns of South Korean and Japanese leaders.”
The two countries are crucial US allies in Asia, and both face serious threats in their near abroad.
Discussing security threats, though, wasn’t the main goal of Mattis’s trip. He was there to assure both countries that the Trump administration will not abandon the US alliance structure in the Pacific.
In light of Mattis’s visit, let’s take a look at current US military and investment positions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Arthur I. Cyr: Japan-U.S. alliance advances — with Pacific and global significance

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the United States has underscored the vital importance of the alliance between our two nations. Military defense as well as economics is involved.
Growing nationalism is evident in Japan, and reflected in the prime minister's own public statements, but there is no wide support for any massive change in defense posture.
The substantial arms buildup by China receives continuing global attention and concern, along with the wider regional arms race, and ongoing maritime disputes. North Korea's often violent rhetoric, combined with nuclear weapons development, make that country a particularly dangerous wild card.

Cobra Gold military drill offers a glimpse into Washington’s Asia-Pacific strategy

The 36th Cobra Gold military exercises, the largest annual multilateral drill in Asia, was staged Tuesday at Thailand's Utapao airbase. Being the bedrock of military ties between Washington and Bangkok, it is one of the crucial indicators to test the US-Thailand relationship. Since it was first staged in 1982, Cobra Gold has never been suspended or postponed. In addition, the military exercise has even developed from a strictly bilateral activity into a multilateral event, involving nearly 30 nations in the region this year. Cobra Gold is also considered by some observers as a barometer for US' policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Recently, a number of analysis papers such as "Cobra Gold set to shift order in Southeast Asia" or "Cobra Gold 2017 will be watched for Trump's commitment to Asia" have emerged. Yet these predictions exaggerate Thailand's position in the US global strategy. 

Given that Trump will put "America first," his strategic priority will, without a doubt, focus on US domestic issues. Washington's major allies come next. Thailand, one of US' secondary allies, will hardly play a decisive role in the White House's global tactics. Especially when the tone of future Sino-US relationship is not set, it is impossible for the White House to make explicit judgments or firm decisions on its policies in Southeast Asia, or the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

North Korean missile launch poses no immediate threat to Guam

A North Korean missile landed in the Sea of Japan after the latest ballistic missile launch on Sunday morning. Public information officer Jenna Gaminde said the Guam Offices of Homeland Security and Civil Defense are monitoring the situation closely.
"The ballistic missile test from North Korea did reach an altitude of about 350 miles into the air," she told KUAM News. "There are no immediate threats to Guam and the Marianas at this time but we remind residents to just be aware of the situation."
Meanwhile over the weekend Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch "absolutely intolerable," and President Donald Trump said the US stands by Japan 100 percent. 

Chinese pilot acted 'legally' in encounter with U.S. military plane

China's defense ministry said Friday that a Chinese pilot had responded "legally and professionally" to a close encounter between military planes from China and the U.S. over the South China Sea.

A defense ministry official, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that a U.S. plane approached a Chinese military jet that was carrying a routine mission near the Huangyan Island and the Chinese pilot responded with legal and professional measures.

"We hope that the U.S. could take the bilateral military relations into consideration and adopt practical measures to eliminate the root cause of air and sea mishaps between the two countries," said the official.

A U.S. Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an incident the U.S. Navy believes was inadvertent, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

Federal government moves to pay Guam war reparations

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The federal government is moving forward with plans to pay claims to as many as 5,000 Guam residents and estates on behalf of those who experienced atrocities during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II.
A Department of Justice commission is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to begin collecting information from residents related to the war claims. A notice in the Federal Register says the information will be used by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to decide claims for compensation, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2kENkOf) Monday.
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December included reparations for those killed, injured or subjected to forced labor and other harmful acts by Japanese occupiers.

In Okinawa, older women are on the front lines of the military base protest movement

For an entire year, 60-year-old Kumiko Onaga slept in a tent across the street from a US military base on Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island. In the middle of the night, when trucks carrying construction material approached the entrance gate of the base, she jumped out of her sleeping bag and tried to block the vehicles. 
Then, each morning, she drove home, showered and went to work as one of her town’s few women city council members.
"People know me as 'The Sleeping Bag Councilwoman,'" Onaga says with a smile, adding that more people know her by her nickname than her real name.
Onaga and others on Okinawa have long objected to the relocation of a contentious US Marine Corps base to the remote fishing village of Henoko on the northern part of the island. Part of the plan involves the construction of military runways in the coral-filled coastal waters next to the base.

Business Insider: "Will Trump push the US military to finally pull off a 'Pacific pivot'?"

James Mattis visited Asia this month on his first foreign trip as the new head of the Pentagon. It was less a get-acquainted visit than a damage control tour.
His boss, President Donald Trump, had threatened to escalate tensions with China and prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear-capable ICBM. He’d accused Japan of currency manipulation. He wanted both Tokyo and Seoul to pay more for their alliance with America. He’d unceremoniously pulled out of a free-trade agreement – the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) – that the United States had previously gone all out to promote.
Like the good cop who comes in to soften up a suspect that’s been abused by the bad cop, Mattis made many reassuring statements on his trip and even directly contradicted his administration.
Allies were paying their share, he said. The U.S. military would stand firm behind Japan and South Korea. And diplomacy not military force was the way to solve disputes like those in the South China Sea. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

US court places under advisement motion to dismiss lawsuit against military

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona placed under advisement the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Alternative Zero Coalition over the U.S. military’s decision to relocate U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.
Judge Manglona set a status conference for April 6, 2017.
During the hearing on Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice natural resources section trial attorney Joshua P. Wilson appeared for the military while Earthjustice counsel David L. Henkin argued for the Alternative Zero Coalition which is composed of the Tinian Women’s Association, the Guardians of Gani, PaganWatch, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Alternative Zero Coalition has sued the U.S Department of the Navy, its secretary, the U.S. Department of Defense and its secretary for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act or APA.

Japan trying to silence Okinawan activist, say supporters

For two decades, a group of mainly elderly people has fought a war of attrition with Japanese authorities over the building of a huge American military base on Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture. The jovial ringleader of the protests in recent years has been Hiroji Yamashiro.
A retired civil servant, Yamashiro (65) could be found in all weather outside the gates of the base, rallying protesters with songs, chants and poetry. Last autumn, police arrested him on charges of snipping a fence. Over three months later he is still in custody, a prisoner of conscience, say his friends.
“It’s clear that the purpose of detaining him is to stop the anti-base protests,” says Isamu Nakasone, a retired judge-turned Okinawa activist. “He took a central role in opposing the military base. His detention is a warning to others, just as construction enters a key phase.”

“I am filled with indignation,” Governor Onaga criticizes Japanese government for dumping concrete blocks into sea off coast of Henoko


February 7, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
On the afternoon of February 7, Governor Takeshi Onaga strongly criticized the Okinawa Bureau of the Defense Ministry for dumping concrete blocks into the sea off Henoko, Nago despite his request to stop it.
The governor said, “I made a request that they (Okinawa Defense Bureau) not install [the concrete blocks into the sea]. I am filled with indignation because they took action like this without any advance consultation.”
He revealed that he would resend the document to the Okinawa Defense Bureau asking them to stop dumping the concrete blocks and provide a silt-curtain establishment plan.

Editorial: Henoko construction will cause irreparable damage to the sea environment; prefectural government must take action

February 7, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
The government has started work in the ocean for the new Henoko base in preparation for large-scale land reclamation.
This outrageous behavior tramples on Okinawans’ overwhelming opposition to the construction, expressed in countless elections and opinion polls, and invites anger. Prior to the commencement of works, the prefectural government requested a detailed explanation of the work to be done, but the government unilaterally cut off discussions. We strongly protest the government’s high-handed disregard for local autonomy.
The new base will facilitate deployment of the dangerous Osprey aircraft and reinforce the U.S. base presence in Okinawa. It will also cause irreversible damage to the ocean, which is a treasure of the Okinawan people and a natural habitat that is also important from a global perspective. We reaffirm our demand that the government immediately cease construction, and call on the prefectural government to take all possible measures to prevent the construction.

Okinawa’s special, rare bird at the mercy of U.S. military

KUNIGAMI, Okinawa Prefecture--The Okinawa woodpecker, a special national treasure, could be excused for thinking the United States had declared war on it.
The bird's only habitat in the world is the subtropical evergreen broad-leaf forest here, called Yanbaru, on the northern end of Okinawa’s main island.
Unfortunately for the woodpecker, the pristine forest is now home to six U.S. military helipads that cater for the infamously ear-popping Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft after four were completed in December.
Ospreys use each helipad 420 times a year, according to a U.S. military report.

U.S. Bases On Japanese Island Of Okinawa Have Long Been Contentious

DAVID GREENE, HOST: OK. Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, meets in Washington today with President Trump. These are two nations with a long-standing military alliance. No country hosts more U.S. troops than Japan. And nowhere in Japan are there more U.S. bases than on the island of Okinawa. And that has caused friction as NPR's David Welna reports.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Last week, the governor of Okinawa stopped by NPR's headquarters and unfurled a map of his island.
GOVERNOR TAKESHI ONAGA: (Through interpreter) This is Futenma Air Station.

[Column] Will Trump Complete the Pivot to Asia?

James Mattis visited Asia this month on his first foreign trip as the new head of the Pentagon. It was less a get-acquainted visit than a damage control tour. His boss, President Donald Trump, had threatened to escalate tensions with China and prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear-capable ICBM. He’d accused Japan of currency manipulation. He wanted both Tokyo and Seoul to pay more for their alliance with America. He’d unceremoniously pulled out of a free-trade agreement – the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – that the United States had previously gone all out to promote.
Like the good cop who comes in to soften up a suspect that’s been abused by the bad cop, Mattis made many reassuring statements on his trip and even directly contradicted his administration. Allies were paying their share, he said. The U.S. military would stand firm behind Japan and South Korea. And diplomacy not military force was the way to solve disputes like those in the South China Sea.

Pentagon says US, Chinese air encounter unintentional

BEIJING — The Pentagon said a close encounter between a Chinese early warning aircraft and a U.S. Navy patrol plane over the South China Sea appeared to be unintentional and both pilots maintained professional radio contact, in the first such incident known to have taken place under President Donald Trump's administration.
A Chinese KJ-200 flew within 1,000 feet of a U.S. Navy P-3C in international airspace over Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters in Washington.
He said the Chinese aircraft "crossed the nose" of the P-3, forcing it to make an immediate turn.
"We don't see any evidence that it was intentional," he said, adding that the incident was a "one-off." He said both pilots were in "normal radio contact" and their communication "professional."

Editorial: Trump rhetoric could bring terror close to our doorstep

By the looks of President Trump’s debut on the world stage, we haven’t seen the last of his provocative statements that have so far drawn ire and could further infuriate presidents and dictators of countries that happen to be neighbors of Guam.
We’re the tip of the nation’s defense in the Asia-Pacific, so goes some military officials’ description of Guam.
If a country close to Guam were to retaliate against the United States because of Trump’s rhetoric, then the island is right close by: at the doorstep of a potential retaliatory strike.
If you think this view is too much of a military hawk’s stance, get this: This concern was brought up at a recent University of Guam forum, involving students and other local community members.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Court hears case against US military plans for Marianas

A court in the Northern Marianas has placed under advisement a motion by the United States government to dismiss a lawsuit against its military plans in the territory.
Four groups are suing the Pentagon over the Navy's plans to relocate US Marines from Japan to Guam and to conduct live-fire training on two of the Northern Marianas' islands.
The groups - the Tiniana Women's Association, Guardians of Gani, PaganWatch, and the Centre for Biological Diversity - say the defence department has violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Water Wars: US Hits Reset Button in Asia-Pacific

Secretary of Defense James Mattis continued making waves throughout the Asia-Pacific as he wrapped up a visit to Japan and South Korea. Beijing was particularly vocal after Mattis confirmed that the Japanese-controlled Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are covered under Washington’s mutual defense treaty with Tokyo. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang “urge[d] the US side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks . . . and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.” Lu Kang also criticized Mattis’ agreement with South Korea to continue developing THAAD, a missile defense system that China believes “will undermine the strategic security interests of regional countries.”

Supercarrier USS Carl Vinson in Guam ahead of S. Korea-US Exercise

Ahead of the annual Key Resolve exercise of the allied forces of South Korea and the U.S. next month, the 93-thousand-ton USS Carl Vinson supercarrier arrived in Guam on Friday.
 
The U.S. Pacific Fleet revealed on its Web site that the aircraft carrier is in Guam, carrying roughly 75-hundred crew members for the first port visit of an ongoing deployment to the Western Pacific.
 
The site said in Guam, the carrier and its crew will enjoy some time off. It did not elaborate on what its next mission will be.
 
A military source said that there is a strong possibility the USS Carl Vinson will take part in combined military exercises to be launched by South Korea and the U.S. next month. The source said the carrier is expected to be assigned to a new mission while taking time off in Guam.

U.S. Bases On Japanese Island Of Okinawa Have Long Been Contentious

NPR - http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=514458686
DAVID GREENE, HOST: OK. Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, meets in Washington today with President Trump. These are two nations with a long-standing military alliance. No country hosts more U.S. troops than Japan. And nowhere in Japan are there more U.S. bases than on the island of Okinawa. And that has caused friction as NPR's David Welna reports.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Last week, the governor of Okinawa stopped by NPR's headquarters and unfurled a map of his island.
GOVERNOR TAKESHI ONAGA: (Through interpreter) This is Futenma Air Station.
WELNA: Speaking through an interpreter, Governor Takeshi Onaga pointed out that the U.S. Marine Corps air base Futenma is right in the middle of a densely populated city.

Trump thanks Japan for hosting US military bases

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump thanked Japan’s prime minister Friday for hosting U.S. military bases and described the U.S.-Japanese alliance as critical in the Pacific at a time of growing concern over North Korea’s nuclear threat.
“The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region,” Trump told reporters at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump, who spoke during the election campaign of making Japan and South Korea pay more for their own defense, thanked the Japanese for “hosting our armed forces” and said the missile and nuclear threat from North Korea is a “high priority” for the United States.  
The warm public atmosphere between the two leaders amounted to a political coup for Abe, a nationalist adept at forging relationships with strongmen leaders. Abe was the only world leader to meet the Republican before his inauguration and is the second to do so since the new president took office.

'Quiet night' demand by residents near Kadena base dismissed

NAHA —
The Naha District Court has dismissed a demand by residents near the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena air base for a ban on night and early morning flights, saying “the case, based on customary international laws, is beyond Japan’s jurisdiction.”
In handing down the ruling on Thursday, Presiding Judge Tetsuya Fujikura said, “A foreign military’s sovereign act in a country can be exempted from local jurisdiction as long as it is stationed upon an agreement with the host country.”
The district court’s branch in the city of Okinawa rejected the argument of a group of 146 residents near the base in Okinawa Prefecture that the United States cannot be exempted from liabilities under the law on the civil jurisdiction of Japan with respect to foreign countries, which took effect in 2010.

Japan, U.S. at odds over TPP, but in sync on Okinawa

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were at odds Friday over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade agreement from which the United States withdrew last month.
    In a meeting in Washington, Kishida underscored the economic and strategic significance of the TPP, but Tillerson expressed the U.S. intention to develop bilateral economic ties with Japan, according to a Japanese official.
    While vowing to advance bilateral economic ties with Tokyo, Tillerson also stressed the importance of building "close economic relationships" with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the official told reporters, without providing further details.