‘Guam can’t be new Okinawa’
Friday, 12 February 2010 03:51
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff
GOVERNOR Felix Camacho met with a Japanese delegation yesterday that flew to Guam on a fact finding mission which included a tour of the military bases.
Camacho, who was joined by CNMI Gov. Benigno Fitial, shared with the delegation that Guam would not be able to accommodate additional troops than what was originally agreed by transferring all the troops from Futenma Air Base to Guam.
“I’ve said this before to the Secretary of Defense and the government of Japan and again reiterated here that Guam is not a replacement for Okinawa and I know they understand that,” said Camacho.
The governor said that with the proposed 8,000 Marines and an additional number for missile defense that that number was more than sufficient for Guam to handle.
“We have restrictions and limitations based on our land capability and our resources and our capacity,” said Camacho.
Fitial said that the delegation was interested to know if the CNMI would be receptive to the idea of accommodating troops to the island of Tinian, if a decision was made and there was the need to move the rest of the Marines from Futenma to Guam.
Fitial said that he told the delegation that he would welcome 4,000 Marines to the island of Tinian. (See related story on page 15.)
“I told them, welcome, because I know that my brother, (gesturing to Gov. Camacho), cannot accommodate them, and I told them that we’re trying to reunite the Marianas. Guam has lands to offer, we have islands,” said the CNMI governor.
Camacho said that between the U.S. military and the Japanese delegation, there is a true understanding of the alliance between Japan and the United States.
“It’s bringing that presence and deterrence from any threats to the region; we’ll all benefit from it. The Japanese leadership is extremely vital and important in this entire matter. And they also recognize now that commitments have been made between the nations. We are the host islands and there’s got to be due consideration for the burden it places in our community,” said Camacho.
Camacho said the delegation recognized that Guam does have its limitations.
“They recognize that 40,000 troops in all of Japan whether they be sailors, airman, Marines—75 percent of those are in Okinawa, which represents, I believe only roughly six percent of the total land mass. So there’s a disproportionate number of troops in Okinawa and that’s been a heavy burden on them.”
Camacho said there is a possibility of moving all the troops out of Okinawa and disbursing them throughout Japan.
“They at first thought about Guam and the Northern Marianas but now realize that we don’t have the capacity to accommodate that, nor can Guam replicate or replace Okinawa,” said Camacho.