Friday, February 12, 2010

Three Japanese lawmakers make brief stop on Saipan

Three Japanese lawmakers make brief stop on Saipan

Tuesday, February 09, 2010
By Haidee V. Eugenio

Three Japanese lawmakers who play major roles in the ongoing talks about the relocation of U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam will meet on Saipan with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and other CNMI officials on their way to Guam on Wednesday.

The visiting members of the National Diet or the Japan Legislature include Mikio Shimoji, Tomoko Abe, and Ryoichi Hattori, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos' legal counsel, Teresa Kim, said yesterday.

Shimoji is the policy chief of the People’s New Party, one of the tripartite ruling coalitions in Japan, Abe is the policy chief of the Social Democratic Party, and Hattori is also with the Social Democratic Party.

Kim said the Japanese lawmakers will be on Saipan “for approximately two hours before proceeding to Guam to meet with Guam leaders.”

During their short time on Saipan, they will meet with Fitial, Inos, House Speaker Froilan C. Tenorio (Cov-Saipan), and Senate President Paul A. Manglona (R-Rota) “to discuss current issues relevant to the CNMI and Japan and discuss any plans they may have so as to improve our tourism and economy,” said Kim.

Japan continues to be the CNMI's main tourism market. In December alone, 15,638 visitors from Japan came to the CNMI but this marked a 24 percent decrease compared to December 2008.

“The CNMI has always enjoyed a great working relationship with Japan. We recognize that Japan is our number one tourism source market and always welcome opportunities to meet with leaders of Japan to listen to their ideas and implement them when possible,” Kim added.

The Fitial administration has invited the media for a news briefing with the visiting Japanese lawmakers at 4:15pm Wednesday at the Coral Ocean Point.

The three Japanese lawmakers' visit comes at a time when Guam is on the verge of a massive military buildup, although Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho has asked for a delay until after 2014.

A part of the realignment plan for the U.S. military in the region involves the relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

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