Guam coalition presses for war reparation
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
A coalition of local organizations is petitioning the U.S. and Japanese governments to compensate the wartime victims of the Japanese Imperial Army’s atrocities out of the $6 billion that Tokyo pledged to help defray the cost of the Marines’ relocation to Guam. The Coalition Group for War Reparation wants the U.S. and Japan “to bring closure to this tragic chapter in the history of Guam” before transferring the 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam.
“The $6 billion committed is not because Japan loves the U.S. On the contrary and what is very obvious is that Japan wants to relieve itself from the burden and problems associated with U.S. Marines occupying Japanese land,” said Dr. Jose T. Nededog, coalition organizer. “The coalition strongly feels that the Japanese government must recognize and accept responsibility for what it did to the peaceful indigenous Chamorro people of Guam during World War II and compensate them accordingly,” Nededog added.
The coalition’s petition is addressed to President Bush, members of the U.S. Congress including Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Attached to the petition and individual letters sent to U.S. and Japanese officials is a copy of Guam Legislature’s Resolution 127, adopted in March, asking the U.S. government to grant Guam $2.4 billion to fund the island‚s infrastructure development needs that the troops relocationentail.
The resolution also requests Bordallo “to propose full funding of Guam war reparations to be incorporated within or without the overall funding and financing of military base expansion on Guam as an appropriate opportunity to address the bring closure to this historic injustice.” Japanese troops invaded Guam on Dec. 8, 1941 and occupied the U.S. territory for 31 months, subjecting the natives to executions, torture, forced labor, forced march and internment in concentration camps.
The U.S. eventually recaptured the island, leading to the 1951 peace treaty that exonerated Japan and spared it from paying war reparations.
“It has been over 62 years since the end of World War II and where the people entitled to reparation were approximately 22,000, they now number approximately 5,000 as they are aging and dying daily. These are the victims or are surviving heirs of such victims,” the petition reads.
In a letter to Koizumi, Nededog said that despite the U.S.’s absolution of Japan, “the government of Japan is still morally and legally obligated” to compensate the people of Guam for the sufferings that they had gone through.
In a separate letter to Rumsfeld, Nededog said resolving the long overdue war reparation “can only bring better relationship between the people of Japan, the U.S. military forces and the people of Guam.”
Pending in the U.S. Congress is Bordallo’s H.R. 1595, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which would provide restitution to the people of Guam who suffered atrocities -- including personal injury, forced labor, forced marches, internment, and death -- during the Japanese occupation of Guam. If passed into law, the bill would grant $25,000 each for Guamanians (or their heirs) who were killed during the Japanese occupation and up to $15,000 for those who were seriously injured.