Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Virginia senator visiting Guam, Japan

Virginia senator visiting Guam, Japan

Posted: Feb 10, 2010 4:22 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2010 6:50 PM

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Several national and international bigwigs are heading to Guam, all looking to gather more information on the military buildup. As the deadline to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement draws near, it seems more government leaders from the U.S. and Japan are showing concern for the Marine relocation.

Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo today confirmed that a congressional delegation led by Virginia senator Jim Webb will be visiting Guam on February 18. Senator Webb is the chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee in the Senate Foreign Relation Committee and a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. His main focus is to meet with local leaders and federal officials to provide oversight of the military buildup and the implementation of the Guam International Agreement.

Governor Felix Camacho plans to tell the senator that more attention needs to be given to the people off base, and just those behind the fence. "The message I want to convey is you must be considerate of our situation, the role we're playing and the fact that we deserve some attention on this matter," he said.

Both Speaker Judi Won Pat and committee chair on the Guam Military Buildup Senator Judi Guthertz are hopeful they will have an opportunity to meet with Webb, respectively saying, "The important thing is making sure that he gets an idea of the sentiments of the people and the idea of how the idea was drafted, the insufficient time, the many flaws that it has," and, "I will let him know that so far there has been no commitment by the federal government, or the United States Department of Defense or the united states Congress to help us prepare for this buildup properly."

While Webb's agenda is being finalized, a delegation of 23 Diet members is arriving this evening on a fact-finding mission. Led by deputy chief cabinet secretary Yorihisa Matsuno, the delegation will visit Andersen Air Force Base, NCTMS, and the Naval Base in Sumay as well as meet with Governor Camacho. The Consul General's Office confirms the group is the actual committee that was formed in the Japan government to consider alternative sites for the Futenma Replacement Facility.

Senators shared disappointment as the speaker today was informed that the Legislature's meeting with the delegation was cancelled.

Meanwhile, Camacho says he will be careful with what he has to say before anything is finalized on the buildup. "I'm going to be consistent in the message I had relayed to the secretary of defense for the government of Japan that 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependants is sufficient. We're not necessarily open to the recommendation that everything move to Guam. We're dealing with our own efforts just on what's being proposed," he said.

The delegation leaves back to Japan late tomorrow afternoon.

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