Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama backs war claims

Obama backs war claims

Thursday, 24 September 2009 01:25
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

SURVIVORS of the Japanese occupation during World War II and their dependents are one step closer to the passage of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, with the Obama administration endorsing the inclusion of war reparations in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said yesterday.

Rhea Suh, assistant secretary for the Department of Interior’s policy, management and budget, sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, Congressmen Ike Skelton and John McHugh expressing the Obama administration’s support for Guam war claims.

“The endorsement of Guam war claims by the Obama administration in the final defense bill is a major development as we head to conference,” said Bordallo. “I believe that the administration’s position will be an important factor in the conference committee’s deliberations. I thank Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta who was instrumental in gaining the Administration’s support.”

Babauta will address the Guam Legislature at 10:45 a.m. when Speaker Judi Won Pat convenes session today.

Only the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.

As the congressional conference committee begins its deliberations to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the defense budget bill, Bordallo emphasized, “We are at a critical juncture and we are within reach. The next two or three weeks may well decide the success or failure of this effort.”

H.R. 44 would require the Secretary of the Treasury to make direct payments to residents of Guam who suffered injury at the hands of the Japanese in World War II.

In addition, the bill would also authorize $5 million to establish a new program to make grants available for projects to memorialize the occupation of Guam by the Japanese.

Awards to victims range from $7,000 to $25,000 for victims and survivors, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained during the war.

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