Thursday, December 15, 2016

Congress Authorizes Payment to Guam Residents Harmed During World War II

Congress has recognized and authorized payment for the harm done to Guam residents during the World War II occupation of the island by Japanese military forces.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 — which passed the Senate last Thursday and was sent to the White House yesterday — contains the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which provides a claims process to residents who had suffered under Japanese occupation. 
"The passage of this bill brings us a step closer to honoring Guam's greatest generation and rightfully recognizing the survivors of the occupation of Guam during World War II," Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) said in a statement.
Guam, which has been a U.S. territory since 1898, was bombed on Dec. 8, 1941, as part of Japan's World War II offensive in the Pacific, starting 32 months of occupation, according to Bordallo's office.

The act recognizes the harm suffered by Guam residents during the occupation "on account of their United States nationality," including "being subjected to death, rape, severe personally injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment." It also lauds their loyalty "as demonstrated by the countless acts of courage they performed despite the threat of death or great bodily harm they faced."

The bill provides payments of $10,000 to $25,000 to Guam residents or their surviving spouse and children for harm suffered. It also establishes a grant program for research, educational, and media activities to study and memorialize the occupation of Guam during World War II.
Also included in the defense bill are requirements to track hazing in the armed forces and review previously decorated Asian-American and Pacific Islander veterans who may be eligible to receive the Medal of Honor.
"Despite budget gimmicks that jeopardize this critical funding bill, I am pleased that this annual defense authorization bill includes important provisions that help the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including my language on military hazing," Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "These provisions are important wins for the AAPI community and demonstrate that our demands to address the needs of our diverse constituencies are being heard."

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