Demand, don’t ask
Thursday, 11 February 2010 04:23
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff
Japanese parliamentarian advises Guam to be more assertive
BOTH the U.S. and Japanese governments have equal responsibilities to respond to every issue raised by Guam pertaining to the Marines’ relocation, but the people of the island must learn to be more assertive, according to Japanese parliamentarian Mikio Shimoji.
“Don’t ask, don’t say ‘please;’ demand,” Shimoji said in an interview with Variety last night. “It is very important that the people of Guam speak out and stand up for their rights. If you don’t say anything, nothing will happen.”
Shimoji doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Guam officials directly approaching the Japanese government for assistance.
When asked if the Japanese parliament would respond accordingly to Guam’s request for a portion of Japan’s $6 billion allocation for troop realignment, Shimoji replied, “Why not?”
He said “it is a mistake” on the part of the U.S. government to ignore the cost that will be incurred by the local community as a result of the military buildup.
“The U.S. government clearly said that they are not enthusiastic about doing anything outside the fence. It is wrong,” Shimoji said through an interpreter.
“You must continue to raise your voice; it’s not too late. You have the right to raise your voice to the government of Japan, as well,” he added.
Shimoji is the chief of the policy making board of the New People’s Party, one of the partners in Japan’s center-left ruling coalition.
He is among the members of the Japanese Diet who arrived on Guam last night to assess the island’s situation and evaluate its capacity to handle the over 8,000 Marines and 10,000 dependents who will be relocated from Okinawa to Guam.
He was accompanied by fellow House members Abe Tomoko, Hattori Ryoichi and Yokota Syozo, who all represent the Social Democratic Party.
The Japanese delegation met last night with Speaker Judi Won Pat and Sen. Tina Muউa-Barnes during a dinner reception hosted by Ken Haga, president of the US. Explore & Study, Inc. at the Holiday Resort.
“Our sentiment three years ago is not the same as our sentiment today,” Won Pat told the Japanese parliamentarians. “Three years, the community might be pro-buildup, but that sentiment has changed after realizing its impact based on what we have read in the draft environmental impact statement,” Won Pat said.
Shimoji assured Won Pat and Muña-Barnes that the size of the troops that will be relocated to Guam will be not be bigger than what was agreed upon in the 2006 accord between the U.S. and Japan.
“We appreciate Guam for accepting the Marines who will be removed from Okinawa. This is why the Japanese government has a responsibility to listen to the people of Guam,” Shimoji said. “We will make sure that the forces that will be relocated to Guam are no bigger than what will be left in Japan.”
“I’m beginning to understand Guam’s situation more,” Shimoji said, as he noted the parallelism between Guam and Okinawa, which are both geographically and politically isolated.
“Guam will now be sharing the burden of Okinawa,” he said.
As to the lack of military transparency on the planning process for Guam buildup, Shimoji recalled that Okinawa experienced the same exclusion when the U.S. bases were in the process of being installed on the island. “The U.S. did not disclose the process,” he said.
“So, it’s history repeating itself,” Barnes said.
“We can’t let history repeat itself. We have to join forces to prevent it from happening again,” Shimoji said.
The delegation is scheduled to visit the base facilities today before meeting Gov. Felix P. Camacho at 2 p.m., but the Japanese officials said they are willing to cancel some of their appointments so they can meet with members of the legislature today. They are leaving tonight.