Friday, December 22, 2006

Rising Tide in the Pacific

Published on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by the London Times / UK
The Last Tide Could Come at Any Time.
Then These Islands at the End of the Earth Will Simply Vanish
Blame it on global warming or a submerged volcano.
Either way, the low-lying atoll seems doomed - and it is not the only one
by Richard Lloyd Parry on the Carteret Islands

It begins with the simple rising of the tide in the lagoon, above the flashing coral, and high up the beach where the thin canoes lie. Soon water is breaching the frail sea walls and running over the coconut palms and the dusty pathways of the village. The sea laps at the houses of palm and wood; in the middle of the islands saltwater bubbles up through holes dug by the crabs and floods the fields and gardens until half the land is swallowed up.

It happens every few months. But however many times they have seen it before it is never any the less terrifying for the people of the Carteret Islands. “The kids run around crying,” says Selina Netoi, who lived through the experience last year. “People try to comfort them and they carry them and leave everything else behind. I have seen houses washed away — swish! — and everything inside them. We are helpless when this thing happens. We can’t save anything.”

Every year the tidal surges are becoming stronger and more frequent; every month, a few more inches are being eaten away from the shrinking land of the tiny islands. It happened last March, it happened again in September and it may happen again tonight under the tug of the new moon.

The people of the Carteret Islands — among the smallest, most beautiful and most remote inhabited islands in the world — are hungry and afraid. Since the sea poisoned their fruit trees, their children have lived on an unbalanced diet of fish and coconuts and their pot bellies and the yellowing tips of their black hair hint at malnutrition. Most of them are desperate to leave and plans are being drawn up to move them to higher, safer ground on the larger island of Bougainville, 120km (75 miles), across the water. But however blighted the lives of the 2,600 Carteret islanders are, this is a problem far greater than just for them. The Carterets are a portent of catastrophe to come — not only for the other low lying atolls of the South Pacific, but for low-lying coastal communities across the world, from Bangladesh to New Orleans. If environmental scientists and campaigners are correct, the rising seas are the result of global warming caused by the release of greenhouse gasses. Some time next year the islanders will become the world’s first climate-change refugees; within a few years, barring a dramatic reversal, their home will literally go down in history as the first inhabited territory in the world to be swallowed up by global warming.

“We have no cars and no factories and no aeroplanes,” says Bernard Tubin, a leader on the island of Piul. “We are the victims of this greenhouse-gas emission and we are totally innocent. America sends someone to the Moon, wars are being fought and millions are being spent on warheads and ammunition. So why is it that Russia and the US and Japan and Australia cannot do anything to help us?” Even by the standards of Papua New Guinea, the anarchic nation of mountains, jungles and islands north of Australia, the Carteret Islands are about as remote as can be. From the capital, Port Moresby, you fly to the island of Buka in the autonomous province of Bouganville. After an 11-hour journey by fishing boat, you see six crinkly indentations emerge on the horizon. They are perched on the lip of a circular reef, none at their highest point more than 170cm above sea level. These are the Carterets, the islands at the beginning of the end of the world.

They are named after a British naval captain, a contemporary of Captain Cook, who came across them in 1767. Two and a half centuries later, the most modern charts still mark them in the wrong place. Philip Carteret described them as “scarce better than large rocks”, and during the Second World War a Japanese bomb obliterated one of the smaller islets.

The silhouettes of a few wrecks jut above the circular coral atoll, most of them fishing boats from Taiwan, which plundered the giant clams that used to litter the sea bed. But nothing in the history of the Carterets has been as momentous as their continuing destruction. There have been high tides and coastal erosion for decades, but it was not until the 1980s that they were identified as a cause for long-term anxiety. The population was expanding and at first this seemed to be the cause of overcrowding. But then islanders who had been away for a few years began noticing that areas that had previously been land were under water. “When I was a small boy this shore began out there,” Mr Tubin says, pointing to a spot 150 metres out to sea. “One year ago it was five metres out from here. There were houses here, and fruit trees.”

The authorities erected a series of sea walls of heaped up giant clam shells and wire cages stuffed with coral; their rusting remnants litter the islands. A team of Australian botanists tried to plant stands of mangrove, which bind coastlines with their tough roots; but few of the trees survived.

The Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) had bigger things to worry about in the shape of a civil war that raged on the island of Bougainville throughout the 1990s. “We have to rely on the national Government of PNG,” Mr Tubin says. “But PNG is a dysfunctional, failed state.” In the 1980s the island of Huene was cut in two by the sea and its twin, Iolasa, is quickly going the same way.

“When the tides rise this place is shoulder-deep in water,” Mr Tubin says about an expanse of drying mud that was formerly rich bush. “There are stingrays and sharks swimming around. And when the water goes down, the place is wet and stinking and there is rubbish all over the place. Then the mosquitoes breed in the water, and the children get malaria and diarrhoea.”

Once this was a jungle “garden” of banana, breadfruit, papaya, cassava, tapioca, sugarcane and the starchy tuber called taro. Now it is a slimy, salinated wilderness where only palm trees grow.

The coconuts they produce, with the lagoon’s plentiful fish, are the only food that the islanders have left. The few wells on the islands have been poisoned by saltwater and are now good only for washing. To drink, the islanders must collect rain in water tanks or rely on coconut milk. Four times a year now, rice and other supplies have to be shipped out by the hard-pressed local government of Bougainville — but the Carteret islanders are down to one meal a day. After a flood, the nurse in the small clinic on the island of Han treats 50 cases of malaria a day. Paul Tobasi, the executive manager of the Atolls District, and a Carteret islander, says: “It’s a hard, hard life. These kids don’t realise how hard it is because they have lived with it all their lives.”

The causes of the crisis are not simple, and there is no doubt that the islanders have unwittingly made their own contribution to the problem. Unlike many tropical reefs, the Carteret atoll seems little damaged by bomb fishing — but the mangroves that once formed a natural sea wall around the islands were stripped away for firewood a generation ago. Islanders speak of smoke and even fire that rises from the centre of the lagoon every few years — if these emerge from a submarine volcano,that may have contributed to the subsidence. But a growing body of research suggests that, however much the land may be sinking, waters are rising across the world, especially in the South Pacific. A report last year by John Church, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, based in Canberra, concluded: “The analysis clearly indicates that sea level in this region is rising. The continued and increasing rate of sea-level rise and any resulting increase or intensity of extreme sea-level events will cause serious problems for some of these islands during the 21st century.”

All but the oldest of the islanders are ready to leave for resettlement on Bougainville — but even this obvious step has become bogged down in delay. During the 1990s, 20 families were relocated to Bougainville, but driven back again by the terror of the civil war. They require assurance that this experience will not be repeated. “Here we move freely, but on Bougainville you have to take your kids everywhere — and even then you get attacked,” Mr Tubin says. “We need land, it must be close to the sea, and close to a reef so that we can fish in our accustomed way.”

The ideal place would be one of the coastal plantations formerly owned by foreign companies and abandoned during the civil war. But complicated legal procedures are required to procure the land for the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Then there is the expense. It is a measure of the Government’s desperation that even modest sums are beyond its reach. “How long before a really big wave?” asks Selina Netoi. “A tidal wave that destroys everything — washes away all the houses, drowns the children. We live in fear here, but we have nowhere else to go.”

Even without such a catastrophe, the sea will not retreat. Soon, perhaps within a decade, the islands will be bisected, quartered and submerged.

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Economic Outlook Bleak in the US Colonies

Report paints bleak picture of Guam's financial condition

by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Guam faces serious economic, fiscal and financial accountability challenges, according to a report from the United States Government Accountability Office. Joining Guam in the report is the U.S. insular areas of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chairman of the Legislative Committee on Finance & Taxation, Senator Eddie Baza Calvo (R), told KUAM News, "There is a common thread linking Guam and other insular areas other territories, as well as the Commonwealth, and that is that all of the U.S. flag territories are under some financial duress."

Senator Calvo says this shared pressure is not a coincidence, and may actually be tied in with the fact that we are all not full fledged members of the American political family. "There must be something to that when you have unincorporated territories that do not have full representation," he continued, "and when it comes to the economic treaties that the United States signs with other countries and some of the laws dealing with economic activity that we're not in or a part of the bargaining table." Calvo says one example of this is with restrictive laws like the Jones Act and cabotage laws that make it difficult for Guam to create other industries. In fact, the report points to problems that all insular areas face with having a narrow economic base.

Several factors have been attributed to constraining the economic potential of all four insular areas namely a lack of diversification, scarce natural resources, small domestic markets, limited infrastructure, and shortages of skilled labor. The report also discussed Guam's weakened fiscal condition stating that in CNMI and Guam the fund balance of total governmental funds declined, as government spending rose faster than revenues. Admitting that this is a disappointing revelation, Senator Calvo said, "Obviously we have been spending more than we have been taking in, and this is all that important even now."

The report also takes a look at the poverty level of the insular areas. Although Guam has the lowest percentage of individuals in poverty out of the insular areas at 23%. 23% is still almost double the rate of the Continental U.S. Senator Judi Won Pat (D) says that most of the findings of the report are not new to her, telling KUAM News, "The way I see things is it's something we've known and maybe now I think we need to be very serious if we want to make the changes if we're serious also in the sense that we are saying that we want the military to come to Guam, then we need to do something."

And finally, one of the most important findings of the report is that the governments of all four insular areas, Guam included, have had longstanding financial accountability problems. These issues include the late issuance of single audit reports, the inability to achieve clean audit opinions on their financial statements, and numerous weaknesses in internal controls over financial operations and compliance with federal grant awards.

Read the GAO report by clicking here

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Japan Leader Wants Changes to Constitution

Japan leader eyes move on constitution
By CHISAKI WATANABE, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 19, 12:30 PM ET

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he wants to pass legislation next year that would allow a national referendum on changing Japan's pacifist Constitution.

Abe, in a speech marking the end of this year's parliamentary session, also said he aimed to amend the Constitution during his term in office.

He took office in September after winning a three-year term as ruling party president. The U.S.-drafted Constitution, which bars Japan from warfare overseas, has never been amended since taking effect in 1947.

"I want to revise the Constitution while I am in office, though it is a historic task," Abe said. "First, I want the legislation for a referendum to be passed in the next ordinary (parliamentary) session."

The Constitution stipulates that a referendum is required for constitutional change. Special legislation would be required for such a referendum to take place.

Abe wants to make it easier for the military to operate abroad, but he faces considerable political obstacles. Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds support in both houses of Parliament and majority backing in a national referendum.

Members of Abe's own Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Komei Party, are strongly opposed to stripping the charter of its pacifist provisions.

Abe acknowledged the challenge ahead.

"We will negotiate with both ruling and opposition parties to reach a draft (of the revision). We need discussions among the parties. I'd also like to see a national debate on the issue," he said.

Constitutional change is a major plank in Abe's platform of giving Japan a larger diplomatic and military role in the world and bolstering its defense coordination with the United States, which bases 50,000 troops here.

It is not certain, however, how successful Abe's drive would be as some say Japan may simply change its interpretation of the Constitution to allow its military a wider role, rather than changing the Constitution.

During the speech, Abe also said that a series of bills passed by Parliament will form the foundation for building a new country, leaving its "postwar regime" behind.

"I believe that the passage of the bills marked a big step forward," he said.

Parliament's upper house passed bills last week that require schools to teach patriotism and upgrade the Defense Agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II. Both bills are key elements of Abe's push to bolster Japan's international military role, build up national pride and distance the country from its post-1945 war guilt.

Abe said the bill to upgrade the Defense Agency to a ministry was "extremely significant" and was a sign that Japan's democracy has matured.

The bills have been controversial because of a strong undercurrent of caution in Japan to any efforts to strengthen the military or revive the pre-1945 style of nationalism that led Japan into its disastrous period of imperialism and colonialism.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Pacific Century

Military Growth Anticipated in Guam, Civilian Leaders Learn
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam, Sept. 18, 2004 -- With President Bush dubbing the 21st century "the Pacific century," Guam is expected to become increasingly important to U.S. military operations, officials here told visiting civilian leaders Sept. 17.

Both Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south anticipate big growth within the next several years, capitalizing on Guam's prime strategic location, its pro-military population, and its status as a U.S. territory.

Air Force Col. P.K. White, commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing here, told participants in the secretary of defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference all signs point to major growth for the U.S. military in Guam.

Strategically located more than 3,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, Andersen Air Force Base offers what White calls three major attractions: ramp space, green space and air space.

The base's 7.5 million square feet of ramp space provide "a lot of room to put a lot of airplanes to do a lot of things," he said.

In addition, White said, Andersen features extensive open space to support future growth. "There's a ton of room here to put a lot of new infrastructure," he said.

Air Force Col. Steve Wolborsky, vice commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing, said the Air Force anticipates investing $1 billion to $2 billion into Andersen Air Force Base within the next five to 10 years. This, he said, reflects recognition of Andersen as "the most significant U.S. Air Force base in the Pacific region for this century."

White said another one of Andersen's primary attractions is its access to airspace -- an access he said continues to shrink in the continental United States, Europe, Korea and Japan. "You need airspace to train the way you're going to fight," he said. "And you can find it here."

Already, Guam features a wide range of military assets, including the Air Force's largest fuel supply in the United States and its largest supply of weapons in the Pacific.

Meanwhile, Naval Base Guam, with its protected deep-water harbor, is building up its infrastructure, getting more homeported ships and increasing the training opportunities it is able to offer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Doug Lito told the group.

The base is home port to two submarines, with a third to be added in December, a submarine tender and two Coast Guard cutters. Another 15 ships are forward deployed to Guam, Lito said.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for increasing the U.S. military presence in Guam, Maj. Gen. Dennis Larson, commander of Andersen Air Force Base, told the group, is the fact that it offers a slice of America in one of the world's most strategic locations. This, he said, gives military planners and operators far more leeway in conducting operations than they typically find at overseas bases.

"It lets us deploy forces to here and employ forces from here with a lot fewer restrictions than in any other part of the world," said Wolborsky.

White invited participants in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference to return to Guam in a few years to see the changes ahead.

"It's been said that Andersen will be the key air force base for the 21st century, and I believe it," he said. "This region of the world is very important, and it's a critical time in the future of this base."

While visiting Guam during a weeklong trip through the Pacific to observe U.S. military operations, the civilian leaders witnessed some of the current operations taking place on the island.

They traveled to Naval Base Guam to watch Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 demonstrate its bomb-disposal techniques.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Spengler, an explosive ordnance technician based here, jumped from a helicopter into Apra Harbor, swam to a simulated mine floating in the harbor, and tagged it with an explosive charge. He then swam away from the "mine," grabbed the helicopter's rescue harness, and was lifted onto the aircraft.

Once the helicopter left the immediate area, Conoly Phillips, retired CEO of Conoly Phillips Lincoln Mercury in Norfolk, Va., was selected from the civilian group to detonate the device, creating a huge explosion in the harbor.

At Naval Base Guam, the group also saw a display of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3's equipment and an MH-60 Knight Hawk helicopter used by Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 5 to conduct search-and-rescue missions in the region.

Later, at Andersen Air Force Base, group members met the crew and climbed aboard one of six B-52H Stratofortress bombers deployed for a four-month rotation from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. White said B-52s from Barksdale and Minot Air Force Base, N.D., began regular deployments to Guam in February -- a significant step since the last permanently based B-52s left Guam in 1991.

Larson told the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visitors the activities they observed today -- and plans for the future still on the drawing board -- will contribute to Guam's role in U.S. defense.

"Our primary job is to be ready for any crisis," he said. "If we do this right, we can continue to help provide security and maintain peace in this region."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chamorros Decry US Military Expansion in Guam

Natives of Guam Decry U.S. Expansion Plan
Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec 12 (IPS) - A Pentagon plan for a massive military build-up on the Pacific island of Guam is meeting with resistance by ethnic Chamorros who live there and the Chamorro diaspora in the United States.

According the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, the Pentagon has already moved attack submarines and cruise missiles to Guam, where it is forming a strike force of six bombers and 48 fighters that have been deployed from bases in the continental U.S.

In addition, earlier this year, the U.S. Defence Department announced plans to move 8,000 Marines and 9,000 of their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. Last week, the Air Force announced it plans to add 2,600 service members and their families to the island's Andersen Air Force Base beginning next year.

The realignment is currently undergoing an environmental review. Pentagon officials say construction of the new bases should begin in 2010, with troop movements starting in 2011.

Activists believe the redeployment will result in a total influx of approximately 35,000 people, a number they say will overwhelm their small island, which has a population of just 168,000 people. The southernmost island in the Western Pacific Mariana chain, Guam has been a U.S. territory since the United States won the Spanish-American War in 1898.

"Guam has basically no say," said writer Michael Lujan Bevacqua, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego. "So the U.S. has the right to bring in whatever they want and there is no framework that Guam can make demands or negotiate with the U.S. military. The Pentagon and the United States Congress are the sovereign owners and they act like that. There is no relationship that says we have to listen to your feedback or we have to listen to your demands."

Bevacqua noted that the Pentagon's decision to redeploy to Guam comes after large-scale protests against the United States military presence in South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa. In both countries, the U.S. military operates under rules negotiated between governments called a "Status of Forces Agreement", or SOFA. But because Guam is a U.S. territory, no SOFA is required.

Indeed, the Japanese government is so keen to have the Marines leave Okinawa -- where a number of U.S. servicemen have made headlines by raping local women -- that Tokyo is underwriting most of the estimated 10-billion-dollar cost of the redeployment.

"Japan and South Korea make noises, the people there antagonise the U.S. military, so the U.S. responds," Bevacqua told IPS. "They say you don't want us there, we'll go to a place where people have no say over what we do, and that place is Guam."

Guam elects one non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. During U.S. presidential elections, citizens in Guam vote in a straw poll, but their choice for president is not counted toward the final outcome. Residents of Guam serve in the U.S.. military and can be conscripted when there is a draft.

Not everyone on Guam agrees with the activists. The territory's non-voting Congresswoman Madeline Bardallo is a big supporter of a stepped-up U.S. military presence on the island.

"When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (in World War II), they invaded Guam at the same time," she told IPS. "We were occupied by the Japanese for three and a half years. Now you've got South Korea-North Korea, Taiwan-China. There's a lot of unrest. A lot of us remember the Japanese occupation and don't want something like that to happen again."

People from Guam are very patriotic, she added, pointing out that Guam has the highest rate of enlistment in the National Guard and Army reserves of any U.S. state or territory.

But the activists see the calculation differently. Though they grew up hearing horror stories of forced labour and mass murder under the Japanese emperor during World War II, they do not believe a large U.S. presence is in their interest.

"If there's a confrontation between the United States and North Korea, the Koreans won't look to bomb the U.S. mainland," Sabina Perez of the International Peoples Coalition against Military Pollution told IPS. "They'll look for a place that's closer and easier to hit, and that will be Guam."

It was in this political environment that a coalition of mostly young ethnic Chamorros traveled to the New York in October to address a special summit of the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation. They told the panel, which was originally designed to eradicate colonialism in 10 years but is now in its second decade, to come out in favour of self-determination for the people of Guam.

But they said that while they were greeted with a positive response from countries like Venezuela, the United States, which holds a veto on the panel, refused to listen.

"From where we were sitting, the U.S. representative had to turn his head in order to look at us," Victoria Leon Guerrero of the Guahan Indigenous Collective told the community forum in Berkeley. "He never turned, never looked at us. That's how the United States government relates to the people of Guam."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Guam a "toxic dumpsite"

Szyfres: Guam residents live in ‘toxic dumpsite’
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

CONTAMINATION in Guam’s environment may have caused other diseases affecting local residents who live in “a toxic dumpsite,” according to University of Guam professor and researcher Dr. Luis Szyfres.

Szyfres said the contamination started with the storage of toxic chemicals by the U.S. government. “There are no longer dumpsites of toxic chemicals on Guam, but the island remains a toxic dumpsite,” he said.

Due to evaporation, rain, infiltration and wind dispersion of the toxic chemicals in the dumpsites for more than 50 years, the contamination has spread all over Guam, Szyfres said.

Diseases prevalent on Guam besides neurodegenerative conditions include diabetes, various types of cancer and disorders affecting the kidneys, skeletal system, heart and arteries, glands and hormones and respiratory system.

Other diseases associated with exposure to toxic chemicals are deafness, blindness, liver dysfunction, anemia, sudden infant death syndrome, and progressive immune suppression.

Szyfres also pointed to a Government of Guam report which showed that in comparison to the continental U.S., many diseases on island have epidemic proportions and death rates here are higher than in the mainland.

Szyfres also noted that the prevalence of certain types of cancer is way higher in Guam than in the mainland. These include nasopharyngeal cancer, which is 1,999 percent higher in Guam; cervical cancer, 65 percent higher; uterine cancer, 55 percent higher; depression/suicides, 67 percent; liver cancer, 41 percent; diabetes, 150 percent; Ischemic heart disease, 15 percent; and kidney failure, 12 percent.
In coming up with the theory linking Guam diseases to toxic chemicals, Szyfres cited studies conducted by local and federal agencies.

He said his report is aimed at providing the population of Guam with concrete official information about the health hazards to which they are exposed, and “to avoid any type of political or government interference with the truth, by presenting their own official information.”

Szyfres, a professor at the UOG College of Natural and Applied Sciences, acknowledged that health problems related to toxic chemicals “is obviously a very sensitive socio-political issue.”

He cited studies by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which presented concrete evidence that the soil and groundwater of Guam contains toxic chemicals, and that concentrations of the toxic chemicals are above their own acceptable levels.

The toxic chemicals found on Guam include aluminum, barium, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, copper, chromium, lead, manganese, unspecified metals, nickel, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, selenium, silver, thallium, tetrachloro dibenzeno dioxins, total petroleum hydrocarbons, vanadium, volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylenes, and semi-volatile organic compounds, and zinc.

“Unknown to the residents of Guam, the food they eat, the water they drink, and the air they breathe are contaminated with toxic chemicals,” Szyfres said. “The toxic chemicals enter the person’s bloodstream and may affect any organ or system in the body.”

“The fact that the only way that toxic heavy metals can get to the brain is through the blood, and that they can only get to the blood through the food, water, or air contaminated with heavy metals, proves that the toxic chemicals are not only in the environment of Guam, but in Guamanians as well,” he added.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Filipino Labor in Guam

Into the breach again: US looks to Filipinos
By Cher S Jimenez

MANILA - When the United States moves to downsize its military facilities in Okinawa, Japan, and begin construction on new military bases designed to house 8,000 marines and their families on the Pacific island of Guam, Filipino construction workers will likely do most of the heavy lifting.

In September, Philippine labor officials accepted an invitation from Guam - a US territory - to discuss hiring 15,000 Filipino construction>workers to work on the new military facilities, including barracks, administration buildings, schools, training sites, runways and entertainment establishments. On-land construction activities on Guam are set to begin early next year and the estimated US$10 billion
project is scheduled for completion in 2014.

The US Congress' Overseas Basing Commission had earlier estimated that the cost of relocation and building the new base in Guam, including>facilities for a new command post and housing for the marines' family members, at about $2.9 billion. For undisclosed reasons, the US military now says the total cost will be closer to $10 billion, of which Japan has agreed to shoulder 59% of the bill. Cheap Filipino labor, it is believed, will help bring down those spiraling costs.

If the deal is done, it will mark the latest big hire of Filipino workers by the US military and its affiliated business interests. The US has employed more than 7,000 Filipino workers - nearly half of them undocumented - in its four main military camps in Iraq, according to Philippine labor officials. Neither the Philippine nor US governments has publicly owned up to how thousands of Filipino workers have slipped into Iraq and found work on US military facilities.

US federal policy prohibits the employment of non-Americans inside US military facilities, but the Bush administration's heavy use of private contractors has blurred the lines between public and private functions. After a Filipino truck driver killed in Iraq caused a domestic uproar against the Philippines' participation in the United States' war effort, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in July 2004 banned any new deployments of Filipino workers to Iraq.

Philippine-based non-governmental organizations tracking Arroyo's support to the United States' global counter-terrorism campaign contend that both Washington and Manila have quietly decided to ignore the official ban to maintain the steady supply of cheap, English-speaking Filipino workers in Iraq. Washington clearly seems to
favor Filipinos over other English-speaking nationalities for its most crucial and sensitive military-related construction projects.

In March 2002, Washington and Manila secretly processed the papers of 250 Filipino construction workers to help build new or overhaul old detention facilities now in use at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the US controversially holds hundreds of suspects as part of its "global war on terror" campaign, according to Philippine officials. For their efforts, Filipino workers received a $1,000 monthly salary - far below
what it would have cost the US military to employ US citizens.

Contractual gratitude

Local labor recruiters have been told by government officials that the Guam assignment is a US reward for the Arroyo administration's strong support for its "war on terror". There is also an element of trust: US soldiers frequently train with their Philippine counterparts and US advisers are currently training and providing logistical support to Arroyo's campaign against Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines.

Philippine officials estimate that if and when Filipino workers are deployed to work in Guam, they will earn wages similar to those paid for the Guantanamo operation. From the United States' perspective, hiring cheap Filipinos makes good economic sense at a time when the US military budget has spiraled out of control with the mounting expense of operations in Iraq and to a lesser degree Afghanistan.

It also appears to be part of a quiet outsourcing process: the US Department of Defense's 2005 base realignment and closures recommendations aimed to pare "unnecessary management personnel" at Guam's existing facilities, including "military, personnel and contractor personnel", to the tune of 174 lost jobs over the period spanning 2006-11.

Cheaper Filipinos are expected to fill some of the lost contractor positions, Philippine labor sources say. And they will be charged with building facilities alongside some of the most advanced and important assets the US military maintains outside the continental US. This includes Andersen Air Force Base, which can handle aircraft ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to long-range strategic bombers, and
Apra Harbor, which services everything from nuclear submarines to aircraft carriers. Andersen's special hangar facilities are designed specifically to protect the special radar-evading skin of B-2 bombers.

Sources from the Philippine recruitment industry say that, apart from their low cost, Filipino construction workers are "highly favored" by the US because of their English-language skills. According to industry sources, Middle Eastern companies that have recently hired large numbers of Filipino construction workers there are often subsidiaries of or somehow affiliated with big US reconstruction firms, including Halliburton, Bechtel and Flour Daniel.

"Americans favor Filipino workers because we can understand them and they speak English," said Loreto Soriano, president and chairman of the board of LBSeBusiness, a Manila-based recruitment firm. "Construction manuals and plans are written in English, so we can follow easily, and that's what they like."

Their overall skill sets, including their ability to work with modern construction technology, however, are very much in question. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) recently said that from 2001 to 2005 it was only able to meet 56% of global orders for 103,167 construction workers because of their low skills,
including their inability to operate modern construction technology. Much of that demand has come from the Middle East, where booming oil prices have led to a flurry of new construction and infrastructure projects.

Soriano said the Philippines generally could not meet the surging demand for highly qualified construction workers, including welders, flame cutters, plumbers, pipe fitters and carpenters. For the past few months, job advertisements for construction workers and engineers rose by almost 29%; there were new requests for 4,000 overseas placements in September, according to official statistics.

As of 2005, the Professional Regulation Commission registered 312,478 construction-sector professionals, where nearly one-third was listed as qualified civil engineers. However, the POEA, the government agency that oversees labor deployment abroad, had registered only 737 professionals over the period spanning 2002-04. Now, local employers are complaining about the growing number of construction workers who
leave their jobs without notice after they have been placed overseas.

Some in Manila fear that if the government paves the way for 15,000 workers to take jobs in Guam, the already labor-strapped local Philippine construction could come to a total grinding halt. However, that could also happen to the planned new military facilities in Guam if Filipino workers lack the skills to implement US building designs effectively and efficiently.

Cher S Jimenez is a Manila-based journalist with the BusinessMirror
newspaper. She recently received a grant from the Ateneo de Manila
University to conduct investigative journalism on illegal workers in
the United Arab Emirates.

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Remembering Jesse

Remembering Jesse: local hero honored by community
by Mindy Aguon, KUAM News
Friday, December 08, 2006

U.S. Army Sergeant Jesse Castro is being remembered by friends and family. An inspiration to the men and women in our country's armed forces, Castro's legacy will never be forgotten. In three weeks Jesse Castro, affectionately known as "Chu" by those who knew him best would have turned 24. Instead, he paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country during his second tour in Iraq.

The lives of Castro and four other members of the Hawaii-based 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division were tragically cut short when an improvised explosive device detonated while they were conducting mountain patrol near Kirkuk. A large crowd of loved ones attended a mass this morning to honor young Jesse's life. "You gave me a wonderful son, for twenty-three years, he was my blessing," said Dorothea "Doreen" Jesus, Jesse's mother.

She cradled her grandson, attempting to find solace in the legacy her son left behind in his own offspring. "He is going to live his life just like Daddy," she said proudly, "he is going to be respectful to everyone, and play sports, just like Daddy."

On Thursday night Jesse's wife Theresa received a phone call that would forever change her life. Joe Moore, Jesse's father-in-law, described his family's strength in this most unbearable of times by saying honestly, "Life is too short, freedom is not free, so don't ever take it for granted. The other thing is to keep everybody in your prayers. Faith is probably the strongest thing that anybody could ever give another person. We just thought it would never happen to us, but it did. Now you're being tested, now you're being challenged, and I'm sure that everyone will get through this."

Castro had the ability to touch the hearts of all he encountered and had a genuine zest for life. He strived for success in all he did from playing baseball to grappling with mixed martial arts groups, to serving his country and being awarded two Purple Hearts for injuries he suffered while in battle. "He left behind a legacy," continued Moore, "he left his son, his wife, his mom and his sister. And life will go on, it just takes time to heal from then on we can go on with life."

So if variety is the spice of life, then Castro undoubtedly enriched the lives of all he met. This proud son of Guam will forever be remembered in the hearts and minds of all who knew him as a hero - an inspiration to all. Nightly rosaries are being said at the Castro residence in Chalan Pago at 7pm. In the meantime the Castro and Moore families are preparing to have Sergeant Jesse Castro's body brought back so he can be laid to rest here at home.

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo issued the following statement after learning of Castro's death, "I am deeply saddened by the loss of Jesse Castro and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his family. We should all keep Jesse, his wife Theresa, his son Jesse, Jr., and the rest of his family in our prayers during this time of loss and sorrow. I pray every day for the safe return of our men and women who are deployed in harm's way for our freedom. God bless Jesse Castro and his family."

And following suit, Governor Felix Camacho extended his own condolences, writing, "Today is a sad day for the people of Guam. First Lady Joann and I extend our deepest condolences to the Castro Family on the loss of their son, husband and father. Jesse died in defense of our great nation and we all must remember that he paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy today."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

US Marine Convicted in the Philippines

December 3, 2006

PHILIPPINE-US Women's Group, GABRIELA Network Demands Philippines Assert Jurisdiction- Put US Marine Smith in Philippine Jail

At 9pm this evening (already December 4, 1pm in the Philippines), GABRIELA Network (GABNet) stood vigil waiting for the verdict of the Nicole Subic Bay Rape case. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, one of the four US Marines accused of the rape of Nicole, was found guilty by the Makati Regional Trial Court. Lance Corporal Smith's three co-defendants were acquitted. For Lance Corporal Smith who was found guilty, women's groups led by GABRIELA Philippines and the GABRIELA Women's Party call for the Philippine government to now exercise their sovereignty and take Lance Corporal Smith into custody to serve his time in a Philippine jail.

"We are not happy with the full verdict," Lalee Vicedo, GABNet Campaigns Director said, "We fully believe that the four acted together and so no one should have been acquitted of their actions, but given the verdict, the guilty should be treated as such." GABNet will continue to call for the remanding of Lance Corporal Smith into Philippine custody as well as an overall call to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement. This case is a landmark as it is the first time an American soldier has been found guilty of a crime since the US bases were shut down in 1992. As with the fight for the removal of the US bases from the Philippines more than a decade ago, Philippine women were instrumental in demanding justice for Nicole. It was the women's militant stance, their unwillingness to let Nicole continue to suffer from blatant victim blaming, and their commitment that has been able to expose US Military's exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people. This has occurred on a global level with vigils being held all over the world in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Last week, GABNet held vigil right at the gates of US Marine bases in San Diego, California. This was held amongst catcalls and insults hurled by US soldiers, indicative of the US's view of the Philippines.

From the beginning of the case, the US government has shown absolute contempt of the criminal justice system of the Philippines, not even bothering to go through the motions of as the accused rapists were never put under the custody of Philippine authorities. In fact, the Philippine government under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has colluded with the United States by complying with the unfair provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement such as having the judicial proceedings completed within a one year period and the custody of the four accused US Marines being under the supervision of US rather than Philippine authorities. Now that a verdict has been handed down and Lance Corporal Smith judged guilty, he should be treated as any other criminal and serve his time in a Philippine prison. "This is not just a case about one woman," GABNet Chair Annalisa Enrile states, "This case is about the Visiting Forces Agreement and how it has reintroduced the US Military back to Philippine soil and all the issues that go along with that such as rampant violence against women. The judge in this case has ordered that Smith be handed over to a Philippine jail, but we'll see. The Arroyo government has gone out of her way to remain a puppet of the United States than she has done in upholding the rights and dignity of the Filipino people, especially the women."

Now that the decision of custody is in the hands of the Arroyo government, we urge the Arroyo government to take a stand for Nicole by taking her rapist into custody for life in a Philippine jail. The United States should not be allowed to invoke the VFA to provide further reasons to keep Corporal Smith out of Philippine custody. GABNet urges all women's groups, all people's organizations, and freedom loving people to stand with us to demand real justice for Nicole and real sovereignty for the Filipino people.


U.S. Marine convicted in Philippines

By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 4, 6:55 AM ET

MANILA, Philippines - A U.S. Marine was convicted Monday of raping a Filipino woman and sentenced to 40 years in prison, ending an emotional trial that has strained U.S.-Philippine ties and tested a joint military pact.

Three other Marines and their Filipino driver were acquitted of complicity.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, from St. Louis, was the first American soldier convicted of wrongdoing in the Philippines since the country shut down U.S. bases here the early 1990s. His lawyer, Ricardo Diaz, said he would appeal.

Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood and Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis, who had been accused of cheering Smith on, were freed.

Smith, who was in the country for joint training, did not deny having sex with the 23-year-old woman but testified that it was consensual.

The court said the woman, known publicly by her pseudonym "Nicole," was so intoxicated that she could not have consented to sex, pointing to testimony that Smith carried her to a van where the incident occurred on Nov. 1, 2005.

"He was the one who was on top of the complainant, she resisted his kisses, pushed him and fought him back until she lost consciousness because of alcoholic drinks she had taken," said the decision by Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court. A court employee read the decision live on national television.

Pozon said in English that the severe penalty was aimed "to protect women against the unbridled bestiality of persons who cannot control their libidinous proclivity."

Some cheers and applause broke out in the courtroom, and Nicole began weeping as supporters embraced her.

"We're very happy, we laud Judge Pozon for showing courage and judicial independence," the woman's lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, said.

About 100 protesters had gathered outside the courthouse, demanding the government scrap the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement that allows U.S troops to train with Philippine troops after the Philippine Senate ordered U.S. bases shut down in the early 1990s.

Under the pact, the Marines were placed under U.S. custody during the court proceedings.

The U.S. military presence in the Philippines has been credited with helping Filipino troops crack down on Muslim militants in the country's south but activists have rallied against the treaty, saying it favored Washington.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Civilians Left Out of Task Force

Mayor feels civilians neglected on civilian/military task force

by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Sunday, November 26, 2006

The task force created to accommodate the anticipated military expansion on Guam in the opinion of one sitting member exists just for show, as one particular village mayor says when he attends meetings, decision are already made. And evidently, Guam's chief executive rejected the request of each village mayor having a voice in the task force.

Several months ago Governor Felix Camacho created a civilian/military task force to develop a comprehensive master plan that would not only identify opportunities to benefit island residents, but one that would accommodate military expansion and operations in the territory. The idea was to have members of both the uniformed and non-uniformed communities come together to make this organization. The problem is that not all the members feel that their voices are being heard.

Agana Heights mayor Paul McDonald is the only mayoral representative on the task force and said, "I've attended a couple of those meetings and I think the meetings that we've had were meetings that have already been decided upon on." According to the municipal leader, when he attends meetings most of the decisions that are supposed to be made by some form of consensus have already been made. This is why McDonald says that he feels as if the task force is more for show than for actual function.

"I've felt that the community was not properly being represented on issues that I don't think have been addressed down to the community level, which is I feel our level - my level," he stated. Mayor McDonald says that he wrote to the Governor requesting that all the mayors be included on the task force, but he says that request was summarily put down. McDonald adds that he's concerned that the head of the civilian/military task force is a member of the military community.

The mayor continued, "I really think that a civilian should take the lead of this task force and nothing personal to General [Donald] Goldhorn, but he's a military personnel and he should, of course, respect the higher military authorities in D.C., and I'm sure that if it was a civilian person in his place that we will get more voice. [sic]"

McDonald's main concern is that the civilian voice is heard, as it is by its nature the civilian/military task force. But as for right now, he says that's sorely not the case.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Women's Magazine on Guam Militarization

About this program:
Preeti Shekar of KPFA radio's Women's Magazine talks to Noble peace prize winner and author Wangari Maathai about her new memoir, her struggle for human rights, the rights of women and the environmental movement in Kenya. And Catalina Vazquez talks to two women from Guam, one of the last colonies in the world, about the U.S. military occupation and militarization of Guam and their recent visit to the United Nations to get support for the independence of Guam and to stop the military's plans to increase that occupation.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Anderson Growth to Continue

Owens: Anderson Growth to Continue

By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

THE projected growth at Andersen Air Force base will continue despite the replacement of Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Democrats’ takeover of Congress.

This was the assurance given yesterday by the 36th Wing’s new commander Brig. Gen. Doug Owens during a media briefing.

Rumsfeld and the previous Republican Congress had been very vocal about their support for Guam as a forward base for the U.S.

But despite the change in the U.S. political landscape, Owens said Guam’s strategic location assures that the island will continue to play a significant part in the military’s strategic posture.

He added that this was one of the reasons why a general has been assigned at Andersen for the first time.

“General Hester decided that we needed someone more senior to facilitate the growth at Andersen,” Owens said.

Military construction is set to boom inside Andersen Air Force Base as the military installation prepares for 3,100 additional active duty personnel and their dependents to be deployed in the next few years.

This is in addition to the 8,500 active duty personnel and their dependents already residing inside the base and the impending relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa.

“I’m sure military construction appropriations for Guam will continue. Besides, you have a good representative in Congresswoman Bordallo,” Owens said.

He pointed out that construction on the new complex that will house the Global Hawk surveillance has already started, as well as work on the Northwest Field.

Owens, who spent time on duty in Korea, said Andersen is always prepared in case a crisis erupts with North Korea.

“In my personal opinion, our actions will be consistent with whatever actions North Korea initiates,” Owens said.

On a personal note, Owens said he and his wife are “extraordinarily happy” to be on Guam.

He added that he was very impressed with the warmth, friendship, and patriotism of the people of Guam and that he would like to stay on island “for a very long time.”

Owens promised to adopt a policy of “openness” to the media, except during times when this is not operationally expedient.

He also vowed to work closely with the local community and foster better civilian-military ties.

November 15, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

More CNMI Students want to Join the Military

Due to Worsening Economy, More Students Want to Join the Military

By Gemma Q. Casas November 15, 2006
Variety News Staff

AS the islands’ eight-year economic crisis continues to worsen, more public school students on Saipan are enlisting with the world’s most powerful armed forces in hopes of financing their college education.

But the students must first pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a multiple choice aptitude tests on general science, arithmetic, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, mathematics, electronic information and auto shop knowledge.

For many of these students, one way of preparing for the ASVAB is entering the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

JROTC is a program envisioned to instill discipline and nationalism among American high school students — and it is becoming more popular now among Northern Marianas students.

JROTC offers a regular review of ASVAB, which increases the students’ chances of passing the test.

At Saipan Southern High School, 748 of close to a thousand students are JROTC cadets.

Kelvin Babauta, a junior at SSHS, said joining the military will enable him to study in college, serve his country and see the rest of the world.

“I would die for my country. I also see the military as a way to travel. See better things besides Saipan,” said Babauta, who is a cadet 2nd lieutenant.

He said he feels he has to pass the ASVAB now more than ever due to the CNMI’s deteriorating economic condition.

His friends feel the same way.

“We must pass ASVAB,” he said. “It’s a difficult test.”

Henry Camacho, a sophomore at SSHS, also sees his future in the military.

“I want to serve my country,” he said, adding that some of his cousins are already deployed in Iraq.

He said his cousins’ stories about combat and “living on the edge” have inspired him to pass the ASVAB.
For 15-year-old Michelle Ramon, the JROTC program is crucial to her future.

She and Kayla Naboliv Jr. see a brighter future ahead of them if they sign up with the military.
Ramon said the JROTC can help prepare her for life’s challenges.

“The military is one of my options,” she said.

Naboliv, for her part, said the military would help finance her college education.

“I want to be independent and I see the military helping me get a degree in history and education. It will open a new world for me,” she said.

Sgt. Major Shawn Goins, adviser to Col. Stephen Smith, commander of the 13th Brigade, which oversees the U.S. JROTC in the Pacific region, said the program is not aimed at recruiting military personnel but it does help cadets have a better chance of entering the armed forces.

“We just want to give them a map that shows if you work hard it pays in the end. The JROTC is not a recruitment operation nor is the senior ROTC program. It is just a program in high school to help young adults become better citizens no matter what they want to do after they leave high school,” said Goins.

He said the 13th Brigade oversees 55 JROTC and SROTC programs in Montana, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa.

The visiting military official said the Pacific region has one of the best JROTC programs in the U.S.
“JROTC programs stretching from here to Guam, all the way to the American Samoa and Hawaii, are, in my eyes, some of the best that we have. The kids are very disciplined. They understand that someone wants to show you a better way of life and they get it in this part of the country,” the North Carolina-based Goins said.
Goins and Smith are scheduled to talk with various public school principals and Northern Marianas College officials during their stay on island.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Solidarity with South Korea


U.S. Activists Join South Koreans to Protest US Military Base Expansion and US-Korea Free Trade Agreement

New York, NY (Nov. 16, 2006) – American peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin are leading a delegation of U.S. peace and social justice activists to South Korea to oppose the expansion of Camp Humphrey, the US military base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea and to protest the proposed Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.

The delegation of 18, who will be in
Korea from November 20 to November 24, includes members of Working Families Party, Veterans for Peace, Service Employees International Union, CodePink, Global Exchange, and Gold Star Families for Peace. This will be the first trip to Korea for Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, and Benjamin, founder of Global Exchange and CodePink.

They will meet with elderly Korean farmers of Pyongtaek, whose farmland and homes were violently seized by the Korean military to accommodate the expansion of the
U.S. military base. For over two years, Korean farmers have exhausted every legal channel and resisted relocation, holding candlelight vigils for 800 nights.

U.S. government spends $9 billion dollars a month on overseas military operations," said Cindy Sheehan, "We are traveling to Korea to witness first-hand how U.S. tax dollars are being spent to destroy Korean farm lands, homes, schools and lives."

According to Kisuk Yom, head of the Korean-American coalition leading the
U.S. delegation, "There is no democracy for elderly villagers whose farmlands were stolen. The South Korean public, too, has been silenced, yet they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of a future military conflict."

On November 22, the delegation will join the nationwide mobilization against the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. One million Koreans are expected to take to the streets in
Seoul. "The proposed FTA will dramatically expand the failed model of NAFTA," says Christine Ahn, policy analyst with the Korea Policy Institute. "We will let the Korean people know what NAFTA has meant for
working Americans: factories shutting down and farms falling into foreclosure."

Korean Americans against War and Neoliberalism, (KAWAN), a coalition of US based Korean organizations working to stop the passage of the FTA and the expansion of the
U.S. military base, is the sponsor and organizer of the trip. "We hope this delegation will return to the U.S. to tell the American people about the true human cost of the U.S. military expansion in Korea," said Hyukkyo Suh, Executive Director of National Association of Korean Americans. "Korea is a democratic and sovereign nation, and the Korean people want—as they deserve-- to make decisions that will affect their lives for years to come."

For more information about the delegation and KAWAN, please visit

Monday, November 13, 2006

Remembering Japan's War of Aggression

Center a testimony to Japan's war of aggression

KAWAGOE, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) A resource center focusing on Japan's wartime aggression in China and other parts of Asia has opened in Saitama Prefecture, exhibiting documents in which some 300 Japanese veterans confess to atrocities.

Most of the confessions, to crimes such as murdering and raping civilians, were made under the auspices of the peace group Chukiren, formed in 1957 by about 1,100 repatriated Japanese who had been imprisoned in China after the end of World War II as war criminals.

"This center will be the most powerful weapon to show the truth of the war," said Fumiko Niki, 80, head of the Chukiren peace memorial museum in the city of Kawagoe and a longtime supporter of the group.

Chukiren, a Japanese abbreviation for a phrase meaning network of repatriates from China, was dissolved in 2002 because its members were aging. But its activities were taken over by a new, younger group headed by Niki, which launched the center. People in their 20s and 30s have joined her.

The center, in a 180-sq.-meter space converted from a warehouse, houses about 23,000 books along with video footage and photos related to war, peace and other issues, according to center officials.

The books were mainly donated from Chukiren members and the late Masami Yamazumi, a former president of Tokyo Metropolitan University and critic of Japan's education system.

The launch of the center comes at a time when Chukiren members are increasingly concerned over Japan's current situation, including moves to revise the pacifist Constitution and the basic postwar education law with the aim of teaching patriotism in the classroom.

"Primarily, 1,000 Chukiren members were talking in public about the reality of the aggression. And we have to admit that raising the Japanese people's awareness as victimizers more than 60 years after the war has not been enough," said Tetsuro Takahashi, 85, former Chukiren secretary general.

Chukiren's unique activity of "testifying to the acts of aggression" can be traced back to the members' experience of being detained in China's Fushun and Taiyuan prisons, the former from 1950.

Surprisingly treated with leniency by Chinese prison staff, including being provided with medical treatment and Japanese meals, about 1,100 former Japanese Imperial Army soldiers and officers of the puppet regime in Manchuria underwent a re-education process, confessing to their "sinful acts" and reflecting on them.

Only 45 were indicted and convicted in 1956 at military tribunals held in China. None were sentenced to death. All, including those convicted, were able to return to Japan by 1964.

More than 5,000 pages of copies of handwritten testimony by the prisoners are also presented at the newly opened center, provided through the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, Niki said.

Tsuyoshi Ebato, a former soldier held in Fushun, said the confession process he underwent in the prison was "a miracle" that made him realize the graveness of his crime. He recalled how he had ordered new recruits to bayonet captured Chinese tied to stakes as part of training, including a boy who clutched his knees and begged for life.

Ebato, 93, has talked about his experiences on about 10 occasions this year at the invitation of college students, citizens' groups and teacher unions. This is double the number of such opportunities he had the previous year. They "probably thought I don't have much time left," he said.

As the number of Chukiren members still alive, believed to be about 100, is rapidly decreasing, the group headed by Niki has stepped up efforts to find war veterans who will cooperate in talking about their experiences to preserve the memories of war.

Hisao Kubotera, 86, from Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, a Chukiren member who responded to the group's call, gave a lecture in October.

Health problems, including an ulcer, had made him reluctant to go out to speak, but recent moves by the government that he fears are leading Japan to make the same mistakes as it did in the prewar days have spurred him to talk about his experiences in detail.

"I thought a terrible thing is going to happen when I saw the government moving toward revising the Constitution and eyeing passing an amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education in the ongoing Diet session," Kubotera said.

"I believe these moves will be a large obstacle in facing Asian countries that suffered greatly (in the war)."

Kubotera was born the first of 10 children in a farming family and joined the war in China in 1942. He said he is still haunted by the memory of shooting a boy, around 14 or 15, who was hiding with his mother in a hollow, at the order of his squad leader in Shandong Province.

"I pulled the trigger immediately, like a machine. . . . We were taught that the superior's order was the same as that of the Emperor. I didn't even hesitate." he said. "But I felt as if I was killing my little brother. My heart was thumping, and I was surprised that I even had to do such a thing in war.

"Other soldiers kind of sneered at me and said, 'Oh, my, Kubotera killed a child!' But they also killed others, even though it may not have been a child," he said.

As the days passed, the memories of killing the boy faded, until he was imprisoned in Fushun. Kubotera said it still took a few years until he was able to confess in prison.

"All people who went to the war, directly or indirectly, took part in a massacre," he said.

"Japanese people talk about the sufferings of atomic bomb attacks and air raids, but we need to understand them from the context of Japan's war of aggression."

Welcoming the opening of the center, Kubotera expressed willingness to keep on relating his experiences of war.

"In my local area, there are few people willing to listen to what I say, labeling me a communist. I'm also sad that many who have been to the war remain silent," he said. "But I should keep on talking. . . . I think this will be our long, long fight to preserve peace."

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Military Chemical Dumping

Law takes aim at Army for dumping
Congress to military: Inspect, test and clean up the chemical weapons dumped into the sea.
October 18, 2006

The military must inspect the chemical weapons it dumped into the ocean decades ago to determine the danger they now pose to people or marine life, under a bill signed into law on Tuesday.

Then the Army will have to figure out how to clean up or contain - if possible - the mess it secretly made in more than two dozen offshore locations.

"We're elated," said Dave Helfert, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, who pushed for the new law. "This is the first concrete step that addresses a serious threat to the public. It's very important."

A Daily Press investigation last October revealed that the Army dumped at least 64 million pounds of deadly mustard and nerve gas - included in artillery shells, bombs and rockets - off the U.S. coastline, kept it secret and stopped checking 30 years ago to see whether the weapons were leaking. Some evidence suggests the munitions may now be leaking and pose a danger to marine life and people who eat some types of seafood.

The weapons are off the coast of at least 11 states, including Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska and Florida. But more dumpsites may exist because the Army's records are sketchy and were destroyed long ago.

If not cleaned up, the weapons likely pose a threat for generations to come. Metal deteriorates at different rates in the ocean, depending on the depth, temperature and prevailing currents. This causes the weapons to potentially leak at different times and at different rates.

The Daily Press investigation prompted the Army to conduct an extensive search of all surviving ocean-dumping records. A report on that research is finished but has sat unreleased in the hands of top Pentagon officials for more than a month.

After reading the newspaper's findings, several lawmakers demanded the military do more than just check records for unrevealed dumpsites.

A provision in the defense authorization act - signed into law Tuesday by President Bush - requires that the military inspect its known chemical weapons dumps and record the locations on nautical charts so mariners knowthe potential dangers.

The inspections must include water and seabed environmental testing to see whether the weapons are leaking, or have leaked, and determine thecurrent and potential future threat to sea life. The military also must assess the risks to humans.

Mustard gas survives in seawater in a concentrated gel that can last for years, pushed around by ocean currents. Other chemicals can accumulate in seafood and be passed up the food chain to humans.

"This requirement is absolutely necessary to protect the public health of everyone who lives, works or visits the oceans near these munitions dumps as well as the condition of the oceans and marine life," said U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-New Jersey, one of the first lawmakers to raise a fuss.

The bill requires the military to monitor each site - most, but not all, are located in deep water - and determine how to clean them up if that is possible.

The weapons are likely to be unstable and extremely hazardous to disturb after decades in the ocean. They were dumped between 1940 and 1972.

The bill went a step further than experts expected because it applies to all ocean-dumped munitions, not just chemical weapons. "That really is quite amazing," said Craig Williams, director of the Kentucky-based Chemical Weapons Working Group, a citizen advocacy operation that monitors the Army's disposal of land-based chemical weapons. "I'll be in the ground 100 years before they get around to all of that. This isn't going to be cheap."

The Army and Navy extensively dumped surplus conventional weapons off the side of ships for decades and in the late 1960s and early 1970s loaded old ships with old weapons and blew them up, scattering unexploded ordnance inall directions.

The military will abide by the new law "in an effort to ensure the continued protection of the environment and safety of the American public," said Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin.

There is no estimate on what the new law's requirements will cost, and this year's defense-funding bill doesn't include any money for the military to begin complying with the new law's provisions. Congress makes such appropriations annually.

The law does not apply to U.S.-created chemical weapon dumpsites off the coasts of at least 11 other countries. At the end of World War II, the Army dumped its overseas chemical weapon stockpiles where they were located, killing or injuring hundreds in the ensuing decades.

Bush and the Military

Published on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Bush Losing Support of Military
by Bob Burnett

One of the most memorable Iraq war images was President Bush's May 1, 2003, speech from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. As Bush announced, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," framed by the banner, "Mission Accomplished," he was surrounded by hundreds of cheering troops. At the time, it would have been hard to predict that three years later major combat operations would not have ended, the mission would not be accomplished, and Bush would be losing the support of the military.

How did George Bush manage to lose the backing of our armed forces, which at one time was highly supportive of his Administration?

Four factors contributed to this change: First, the occupation of Iraq was botched. Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor's recent book, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq argues the Administration "committed five grievous errors" during the planning and execution of the invasion: "They underestimated their opponent and failed to understand the welter of ethnic groups and tribes that is Iraq." "They did not bring the right tools to the fight and put too much confidence in technology." "They failed to adapt to developments on the ground;" did not recognize the rise of the insurgency. "They presided over a system in which differing military and political perspectives were discouraged." Finally, "they turned their backs onŠ nation-building."

Second, the Bush Administration's failure to "bring the right tools to the fight" directly impacted rank-and-file troops. Particularly in the early days of the occupation, most had inadequate equipment. A recent poll indicated that 42 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans "said their equipment was below the military standard of being 90 percent operational."

Third, the longer our troops stayed in Iraq the more they became aware that most Iraqis didn't want them there. A recent poll indicated that 71 percent of Iraqis want occupation forces to leave within a year. Further, 60 percent supported attacks on US-led forces.

And fourth, increasing numbers of retired Army and Marine generals began to express opposition to the war. (It's a violation of the Uniform code of Military Justice for an active-duty officer to criticize the President or anyone in the chain of military command.)

The Administration attempted to keep a lid on this discontent. As a result, there have been very few surveys that asked active-duty troops how they felt about the war. The most recent poll indicated that 72 percent of active-duty personnel believed the war should end in 2006. A more recent survey indicated that 53 percent "did not always know who the enemy was."

Increasing numbers of soldiers have gone AWOL or asked for Conscientious Objector status. In October, military personnel began adding their names to a web-based petition calling for withdrawal from Iraq. Active duty troops have begun to speak against the war.

The most notable recent comment came from Kevin Tillman on October 19th. Kevin is the brother of former pro football star, Pat Tillman, who killed in Afghanistan on April 22. 2004. Both brothers enlisted after September 11, 2001, and initially served in Iraq; then they were trained as Army Rangers and sent to Afghanistan. Kevin said, "Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground."

One of the reasons the military has turned on the Bush Administration is the increasing number of wounded troops. There have been more than 21,000 such casualties, in addition to the more than 2800 deaths. The Bush Administration prohibits pictures of coffins returning from Iraq.

They've also told the Department of Veteran's Affairs to not give out the names of the wounded. Democratic Congressman John Murtha noted that in addition to the soldiers' grievous physical injuries,"50,000 will suffer from what I call battle fatigue." In July 2004, the PBS News Hour reported, "about one-sixth of troops returning from Iraq showed symptoms of mental health problems but many are not receiving treatment." ( A recent study indicated these injuries will cost the US more than $1 trillion.)

Of course, Active-duty troops are being required to spend multiple tours of duty in Iraq. This has increased their financial and psychological problems. Recently, Stars and Stripes reported the divorce rate for Iraqi veterans jumped from 9 to 15 percent and alcohol abuse rose from 13 percent to 21 percent.

Last year, decorated combat veteran John Murtha came out against the war in Iraq. One of his reasons was the damage the occupation is doing to the military. Murtha spoke movingly of his visits with returning veterans. He concluded, "Our military is suffering."

It is this suffering, the consequences of an ill conceived and tragically mishandled war, that cost the Bush Administration the support of our troops.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bula Nukes Giya Guahan

‘US Unlikely to Redeploy Nukes in South’
By Jung Sung-ki
Staff Reporter

Washington is unlikely to re-deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula to deter North Korea's nuclear threat largely because of its goal ofdenuclearizing the peninsula, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

``The chances of the United States re-deploying those weapons are slim,'' the newspaper reported, citing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's remarks last week that the goal of U.S. diplomacy is to denuclearize the peninsula.

A group of 17 former South Korean defense ministers and war veterans last week issued a statement calling on the government to ask the U.S. military to re-deploy tactical nuclear weapons, which were removed by former President George H.W. Bush's administration in 1991 as part of arms reductions following theCold War.

In the same year, the two Koreas signed a pact pledging not to deploy, develop or posses nuclear bombs on the peninsula, which was apparently breached by Pyongyang when it reportedly conducted a nuclear bomb test on Oct. 9.

Defense analysts also said the U.S. government is expected to provide a stronger nuclear umbrella to Seoul rather than re-deploying nuclear weapons on the peninsula, which would fan a nuclear arms race among countries like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Kim Tae-woo, a researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), said the current U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea is enough to counter North Korea's nuclear capability.

``What South Korea needs right now is the United States' firm commitment to the provision of nuclear umbrella to South Korea, given that U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines frequently visit South Korean ports and are being deployedaround the peninsula,'' said Kim.

Defense Yoon Kwang-ung and his U.S. counterpart Donald H. Rumsfeld are to meet in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to reaffirm military cooperation, includingthe nuclear umbrella for Seoul, against the apparently nuclear-armed Pyongyang regime.

During the security talks, called the Security Consultative Meeting, the two sides are also expected to draw up a final road map regarding the transition of wartime operational control that has remained in the hands of the U.S. military.

The U.S. military is reportedly deploying about 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons around the world. Most of the atomic weapons are being stationed at bases in Hawaii and Guam and have advanced aircraft carriers and submarinesavailable for nuclear weapons installment.

Tactical nuclear weapons are used in a limited nuclear war targeting the enemy military forces. They have an explosive yield ranging from 0.1 kiloton (100 tons of TNT) to 1 megaton (1 million tons of TNT).

The ``low-yield'' weapons are short-range, covering less than 500 kilometers, and take the form of artillery shells. An arms control treaty does not currently cover these nuclear weapons.

Tactical nuclear weapons expected to cover Korea include the Tomahawk cruise missile capable of carrying a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead, the AGM-69 short-range attack missile, the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile fo rB-52 bombersand the BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile, according to defense experts.

Strategic nuclear weapons are used in an attack aimed at an entire country, including both military and civilian targets, in a full-scale nuclear war. Such an attack would seek to destroy the entire economic, social and military infrastructure of a country.

A case in point is the United States' nuclear bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. 17:41

Bula Nukes

‘US Unlikely to Redeploy Nukes in South’
By Jung Sung-ki
Staff Reporter

Washington is unlikely to re-deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula to deter North Korea's nuclear threat largely because of its goal ofdenuclearizing the peninsula, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

``The chances of the United States re-deploying those weapons are slim,'' the newspaper reported, citing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's remarks last week that the goal of U.S. diplomacy is to denuclearize the peninsula.

A group of 17 former South Korean defense ministers and war veterans last week issued a statement calling on the government to ask the U.S. military to re-deploy tactical nuclear weapons, which were removed by former President George H.W. Bush's administration in 1991 as part of arms reductions following theCold War.

In the same year, the two Koreas signed a pact pledging not to deploy, develop or posses nuclear bombs on the peninsula, which was apparently breached by Pyongyang when it reportedly conducted a nuclear bomb test on Oct. 9.

Defense analysts also said the U.S. government is expected to provide a stronger nuclear umbrella to Seoul rather than re-deploying nuclear weapons on the peninsula, which would fan a nuclear arms race among countries like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Kim Tae-woo, a researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), said the current U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea is enough to counter North Korea's nuclear capability.

``What South Korea needs right now is the United States' firm commitment to the provision of nuclear umbrella to South Korea, given that U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines frequently visit South Korean ports and are being deployedaround the peninsula,'' said Kim.

Defense Yoon Kwang-ung and his U.S. counterpart Donald H. Rumsfeld are to meet in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to reaffirm military cooperation, includingthe nuclear umbrella for Seoul, against the apparently nuclear-armed Pyongyang regime.

During the security talks, called the Security Consultative Meeting, the two sides are also expected to draw up a final road map regarding the transition of wartime operational control that has remained in the hands of the U.S. military.

The U.S. military is reportedly deploying about 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons around the world. Most of the atomic weapons are being stationed at bases in Hawaii and Guam and have advanced aircraft carriers and submarinesavailable for nuclear weapons installment.

Tactical nuclear weapons are used in a limited nuclear war targeting theenemy military forces. They have an explosive yield ranging from 0.1kiloton (100tons of TNT) to 1 megaton (1 million tons of TNT).The ``low-yield'' weapons are short-range, covering less than 500 kilometers,and take the form of artillery shells. An arms control treaty does notcurrently cover these nuclear weapons.Tactical nuclear weapons expected to cover Korea include the Tomahawk cruisemissile capable of carrying a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead, the AGM-69short-range attack missile, the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile forB-52 bombersand the BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile, according to defenseexperts.Strategic nuclear weapons are used in an attack aimed at an entire country,including both military and civilian targets, in a full-scale nuclear war.Suchan attack would seek to destroy the entire economic, social and militaryinfrastructure of a country.A case in point is the United States' nuclear bombing of the Japanese citiesof Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 17:41

Monday, October 23, 2006

Only 5.3% of Guam is over the age of 65

Compensation overdue for radiation victims
by Jean Hudson, KUAM News
Sunday, October 22, 2006

One non-profit organization continues to push for victims of radiation exposure. President of the Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors Robert Celestial says according to the National Research Council Guam has missed out on many years of compensation. "Because as of 2000 through 2002, counties in the United States have been receiving millions of dollars through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, and we missed it back then and last year again,' he explained.

Celestial continued, "And so what that does, we now have to justify ask for funding for a new hospital, radiation therapy, and we need a radiation oncologist and a team to operate the machine because they appropriated $2 million for through the Legislature for the machine. It's like buying an airplane without the pilots and mechanics to run it."

He says according to the National Research Council, survivors who lived on Guam between 1946 and 1962 may qualify for compensation. Also, during the PARS annual membership meeting this afternoon, guest speaker Dr. Luis Syzfres with the Cancer Research Center talked about research that reveals that only 5.3% of Guam's population is over age 65. "This is something that is even published in the U.S. Census. I began to ask what is going on in Guam? I receive answers like 'Oh, they're on vacation, the old people', 'They are visiting their children.' No! So what is it? What is unique to Guam that people can't get really old?

"And when we say old, we know that these are diseases that are not like bullets. They are chronic diseases that start early in life," he said.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How Prepared is Guam?

How prepared is Guam for a nuclear attack?
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News - Saturday, October 21, 2006

With concerns about North Korea and nuclear testing, some in the community may be wondering if Guam is ready. Guam homeland security advisor Frank Blas, Jr says that he takes the threat of a nuclear attack seriously, telling KUAM News, "There is the concern of North Korea's capability to be able to launch nuclear missiles not only to Guam but to Hawaii, Japan and the [United States] West Coast."

Blas says that they are in constant contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House about the North Korean threat. "We can only hope and pray that the diplomacy that is ongoing right now will help to calm the situation down," he speculated. Aside from this, Blas says they've already procured some equipment and training to deal with a nuclear disaster and are looking at expanding this training.

But what should you and I do in the event of a nuclear attack? Blas suggests, "Make sure you've got you're emergency supply kits, you've got your flashlights, your battery-operated radios, your batteries, three days' supply of food just in case; then should an incident occur and should you get word of something that may be going on please listen to radio and television broadcasts for official homeland security civil defense releases."

We asked the homeland security advisor if there were any actual bomb shelters for people to go to in the event of a disaster. "No no, I think a lot of people can recall back in the old days the fallout shelters were concrete, and a lot of that was based on," he continued. "Back in those days there were less concrete buildings than, there were steel and wooden structures. Now, obviously there are a little bit more concrete structures."

Blas says your best bet is to stay indoors.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Navy May Outsource Civilian Jobs

Navy may outsource civilian jobs
By Gerardo R. Partido Variety News Staff

A NUMBER of civilian workers at U.S. Naval Base Guam may lose their jobs if the Navy proceeds with plans to outsource their work. According to the Department of the Navy, jobs that may be affected would be in the non-guard security support services and emergency management dispatch support services.

These include jobs in the field of vehicle inspection, explosive detection, pass and ID, court services or administrative support, armory and ready for issue, training, physical security, supply/logistics, crime prevention, surveillance detection, and dispatching functions.

According to the Navy, two separate competitions will be conducted to determine if it is more cost-effective for the Navy to continue to perform these functions or to contract them out.

The jobs are being considered as part of a Navy-wide review of commercial activities being undertaken as per Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, which establishes federal policy for the performance of commercial activities. If an activity can be performed by either contract or government in-house personnel, an A-76 study will be done to determine the most economical method of operation.

Sen. Antonio Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, who heads the Legislature’s military committee, wrote to Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo to ask for assistance. “It has been brought to my attention that once again, the people of Guam are subjected to unfair treatment by the Department of Defense. Guam is the only jurisdiction in the country that has an A-76 Study. It is unfair that our island and our people are the only ones who continue to suffer from the impact of this program,” Unpingco wrote.

He added that Guam has seen how the A-76 Study has devastated the island’s economy and negatively impacted a large number of families.

“We have observed how the A-76 Study has caused the deterioration of existing military assets such as the Fena Reservoir which supplies water to the Navy. It is time that we diligently work together to terminate this program,” Unpingco stressed.

The OMB Circular requires periodic review of each commercial activity to determine if continued performance by government personnel is economical.

Both the government and contract cost figures used in the competition are based on the same scope of work and the same performance standard to assure a fair comparison and continued high level of performance. If the costs of contracting are lower than the costs of continued government performance, the Navy said the jobs will be contracted out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Nuclear Sub Docks At Apra

Nuclear submarine docks at Apra
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

THE nuclear attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) has docked at the Navy’s Apra Harbor facility, Variety sources said.

The USS Seawolf is more advanced than the three Los Angeles-type submarines currently homeported on Guam.

Variety sources said this was the first time that the USS Seawolf has been to Guam or this part of the world.

It was unclear yesterday whether the USS Seawolf’s visit was connected to the current North Korean crisis.

The Navy yesterday confirmed the presence of the submarine but did not give details. “The submarine is here for a routine port visit,” COMNAVMAR public affairs assistant Ben Keller told Variety. But he could not say how long the submarine would be on Guam or where it was headed for next.

“For security reasons, we do not discuss ship movements,” Keller said.

Usually, submarines or any ships making routine port visits to Guam are announced by the Navy.

Ceremonies are even held to welcome the crew and ship visits are offered to the public. But this time, the Navy said no such things were planned for the submarine.

The USS Seawolf is the lead ship of her class, succeeding the Los Angeles-type of attack submarine. It is said that the USS Seawolf is quieter at its tactical speed of 25 knots than a Los Angeles submarine is at pier side. Originally, 29 were to be produced, but with the end of the Cold War, the cost was judged to be prohibitively high and only three were built in favor of the smaller, cheaper, Virginia class.

According to Global Security, the USS Seawolf is designed to rapidly deploy to hostile ocean areas and clear the way for strikes by other friendly forces, as well as engage and destroy surface forces and land targets.

In addition, the USS Seawolf is designed to be a quiet, fast, heavily armed, and shock-resistant submarine. Variety sources said the USS Seawolf is just the first of more submarines that will be sent to Guam as part of normal rotations and a more deliberate show of force in the region.

Currently, Guam is home port to two attack submarines, the USS City of Corpus Christi and the USS Houston, as well as the submarine tender USS Frank Cable.

Another submarine, the USS Buffalo, will join them next year to replace the USS San Francisco, the Los Angeles-class submarine currently being repaired in the mainland.

But the number of U.S. submarines based on Guam may further increase to five in line with the Department of Defense’s quadrennial defense review released last February, which recommended the deployment of more submarines to the Pacific by 2010.

In addition, the Navy is reportedly planning to deploy missile submarines to Guam, in addition to the attack submarines already homeported on island.

The cruise missile submarines are designed to attack large warships and tactical targets on land in contrast to the attack submarines currently based on Guam, which specialize more in combat with other naval vessels.

Two cruise missile submarines, perhaps as many as four, may be deployed to Guam as part of deterrence measures against China and North Korea, which has lately been beefing up its military posture in the region.