PNC :: Bice Says No Changes in Buildup Plans
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Guam - Reports from the Associated Press have some on Guam concerned that the military buildup might not happen at all. Japan's newly elected prime minister Yukio Hatoyama has been quoted as saying he will re-assess the US marine base re-alignment agreement.
According to the Associated Press Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has plegdged to "start from scratch" in re-examining Japan's military realignment deal with the U.S. this is the same deal that will send at least 8,000 marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam. In this deal the Futenma marine corps air base is to be moved to a coastal area that is home to the endangered dugong. Locals in Japan have opposed this move citing the effects it will have on the endangered Dugong.
On the other hand the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that the without the Futenma move their will be no movement of marines to Guam. So will this move occur or not? According to a statement released by Joint Guam Program Office Executive Director David Bice no plans have changed. Bice states:
"As you know, Secretary Gates' position re: Futenma replacement facility is firm. In the meantime, we are planning to award construction contracts for both U.S. and GOJ funded projects as soon as the record of decision is signed later this year. You will recall GOJ has deposited $336m for jfy09 (1 apr 09 thru 31 mar 10) for Guam projects--we are managing those funds. we have already started to execute some of those funds with AE (design) contracts."
While gates is firm about moving Futenma some members of Hatoyama's cabinet have suggested that the entire Futenma base be moved to Guam along with 8,000 marines that are already slated to come here. We asked Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo about her thoughts. The Congresswoman replied with the following statement.
“I do not support the relocation of the Futenma replacement facility to Guam. I echo the governor’s sentiment that there is no room for additional military forces above what is outlined in the current draft environmental impact statement."
As far as whether or not Japan and the U.S. will come to an agreement over Futenma the Congresswoman says "When such a review is complete in may we hope that Prime Minister Hatoyama will conclude that the current Futenma replacement facility location as stipulated in the agreement is the best option available.”
So if Japan doesn't budge on Futenma and the US government doesn't budge on Futenma will this stop the movement of marines to Guam? UOG professor of international and comparative politics Dr. Michael Stoil says it probably won't. He says that it shouldn't affect the move of marines to Guam as the military buildup on Guam really has nothing to do with Futenma. According to Dr. Stoil the buildup on Guam is as a result of the Pentagon's "new thinking" which is to set up a command center for the western Pacific on U.S. Soil. Guam is U.S. Soil and in fact is the Western most part of the U.S.
So why is Secretary Gates calling Futenma the lynchpin? Dr. Stoil says Gates is simply politicking. Politicking because the U.S. government doesn't have the money right now to move Futenma off of Okinawa completely. So in the end if Japan doesn't agree to the Futenma move Dr. Stoil says it probably won't change Washington's mind about the Guam buildup but it may delay it until the U.S. can afford it.
Written by : Clynt Ridgell