Monday, November 02, 2009

Guam build-up progresses as US-Japan meet cancelled

Guam build-up progresses as US-Japan meet cancelled

Updated 11 hours 18 minutes ago

The massive relocation of American servicemen and their families from Japan's Okinawa to the Pacific US territory of Guam is set to go ahead despite funding concerns. Newsagencies are reporting that US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was scheduled to meet with her Japanese counterpart in Washington this coming Friday, but not anymore.

In our regular conversation with the Governor of Guam's spokesman, Shawn Gumataotao, he covers this and the new visa regulations for Hong Kong citizens as Guam aims to draw more tourists from the Chinese territory.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Shawn Gumataotao, Governor of Guam's spokesman

GUMATAOTAO: Well for the most part, we believe that it is a lot of rhetoric coming out of Tokyo at this time. Secretary Gates has been very clear as have been the rest of the United States Department of Defence that an agreement has been signed between two countries very set on sharing the safety of the entire Asia-Pacific region. Governor Commacho has been in talks with much of the high level officials with the DOD, and we as I mentioned before and I will reiterate today again that this build up will remain on track.

COUTTS: What about the air base itself on Okinawa. There is still a bit of rhetoric as you described going on as to where it should be, whether it stays on the current site or moves, is there going to be move of the air base?

GUMATAOTAO: Well, we believe that the lease in terms of where the location will be. It will remain probably at Camp Swab. In terms of where the exact runway will go, whether or not it will go a certain amount of metres into the ocean, whether it be directed into another enclave in the area near Camp Swab. It remains to be seen that it really does sit with the Okinawa Government as they continue to hammer out their environmental reports associated with that move.

COUTTS: Because it has been a longstanding open sore in Okinawa at that air base and the troops because of the noise and the inundation of the troops, so may be it is something that they will still continue to negotiate. And something else, that AFP is reporting this morning that US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was scheduled to meet her Japanese counterpart, the Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada, in Washington on November 6th, but not anymore AFP is reporting. What do you know about that?

GUMATAOTAO: Not really sure on why the sudden cancellation. As you know the President will be in the region in about two weeks or so and we believe that the Guam international agreement will be the focus of talks between President Obama and the new government in Japan, again with more or less the reiteration of the importance of the agreement and ensuring that the move of the US marines to Guam from Okinawa is successful and that they are able to complete the realignment of troops in Japan.

COUTTS: Okay, now moving on. Now we have been reading over the last couple of weeks that a number of countries will be able to go to Guam now without visas. I think the most recent was Hong Kong?

GUMATAOTAO: Yes, that is correct, that with the new visa waver in effect, we would expect to kind of help us in our diversification of our tourism market. As you know, it has been fairly flat from our arrivals out from Japan and our current markets. Hong Kong is of course is a great first step as we attempt to cotninue to move towards the very lucrative China market and we are very excited about the opportunity to bring the Hong Kong tourists along.

COUTTS: So what other countries will be included in this scheme then that won't require visas anymore?

GUMATAOTAO: Well at this point, it is just Hong Kong for now. We are still working on China and Russia markets and we know the CNMI has a bit of a reprieve. We believe that that reprieve in terms of an administrative fix for the CNMI by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, we expect that Guam should do the same in due time.

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