Monday, May 10, 2010

Buildup Remains Contentious

Buildup burden remains contentious issue
Updated: May 10, 2010 6:37 PM
by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - With a decision looming on the contentious issue on where the U.S. Marines' Futenma Air Base will be relocated, here at home the push continues to ensure Guam isn't left shouldering the burden to pay for the infrastructure needed to handle the military buildup. Governor Felix Camacho and CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial will head to Tokyo Wednesday to continue dialogue from this weekend in Saipan regarding the Marines relocation.

"I had gone there Saturday morning and met with six members of the Japan Diet that are very interested in our point of view," said the governor. "They are members of the Democratic Party of Japan, the current ruling party that is in place."

Governor Camacho says the talks in Saipan gave the two leaders the opportunity to meet face to face with the delegation from the ruling party, and express to them how Guam was never part of the discussions or negotiations involving the Marines relocation when the status of forces agreement was signed between the U.S. and Japan in 2006.

Camacho continued, "They made decisions that will impact and effect our territory our people our way of life without any consultation, and secondly that the impact and cost that it will bring to us is there expecting us to absorb that is absolutely not right."

The governor specifically referencing Japan's commitment of $6 billion to move the Marines out of Okinawa to Guam and how not a penny will go toward civilian infrastructure needs to accommodate the growth. For example, it's estimated just for power and water alone it will cost about $1.3 billion in upgrades.

He said, "We have no access to that $6 billion and yet we're on one island with shared resources of water, electricity of land and the like and unless we are given an opportunity it's not fair and right to the people of Guam. We should not be expected to or can we cover the cost that will be imposed on the people of Guam, and I'm asking for access to the $6 billion that is confined only to expenditures within the fenceline."

According to the governor the two are hoping to meet with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Thursday. Camacho says after the meeting he will fly home that same evening. The governor's trip to Tokyo comes amidst talks that are scheduled to be held this week in Washington on the contentious Futenma issue and where the relocation facility will be located.

According to the 2006 agreement it is supposed to be built in Henoko. As we reported last week, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama changed his stance from his pre-election campaign position last year that Futenma must be moved out of Okinawa completely to last week's announcement that realistically that would be impossible. A final decision on Futenma is expected to be made by the end of the month.. As we reported a report from the Government Accountability Office noted that if the Futenma Replacement Facility is not constructed the relocation of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam will not occur.

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