Tuesday, December 29, 2009

‘Don’t’ take our lands’

‘Don’t’ take our lands’

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 04:19
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

Public hearing raises anti-military sentiments

LAND is one subject that has always stirred the hearts and minds of the Chamorro people and yesterday’s public hearing at the legislature once again charged emotions as landowners opposed the military’s plan to take their properties.

The public hearing also raised anti-military sentiments among Chamorro activists, who also took the opportunity to discuss the decolonization issue.

Lands that their ancestors fought for are passed down from one generation to the next until they were indiscriminately taken away “for purposes other than sustaining and nourishing the family clan,” said Gloria B. Nelson.

Nelson was one of over 40 people who submitted testimony during yesterday's public hearing on Resolution 258, which drew angry property owners who are wary of federal government possibly condemning lands under its eminent domain power.

Nelson and her children provided testimony in support of the resolution, which strongly opposes any land condemnation by the federal government for use in the military buildup.

No decision yet

David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, was invited to the hearing but did not make it. He sent a letter to Sen. Judi Guthertz, chairman of the military buildup committee.

In the Dec. 24 letter, Bice stated that the Department of Defense personnel were prohibited from providing testimony on the resolution since it could be interpreted as “predecisional actions,” which would indicate that alternatives “contemplating the acquisition of non-DoD lands will be selected.”

Bice said DOD has not made any decisions regarding which alternative will be selected or whether acquisition of land would be necessary. He added that strict procedure would be followed if DOD decides it is necessary to acquire land.

This means that the Department would seek an agreement with landowners and pay fair market value for any lands acquired.

Not for sale

However, it was clear during yesterday's hearing that property owners, especially those who own property in the Sasayan Valley, are not interested in selling their lands to the military.

They stressed their intention to keep their lands for future generations.

Juan M. Unpingco, 85, who owns properties in Marbo Cave, supported the resolution, saying how he had worked extremely hard to save enough money and sacrifice all his savings to buy property so that he could use it for his livelihood which has paid off, since it has helped him to pay his medical bills.

“I plan to deed it to my children upon my death. I anticipate that my children would do otherwise and deed the property onto the next generation,” said Unpingco.

Lourdes Sgambelluri Pisarri, whose grandfather bought the whole Sasayan Valley and used it to sustain his family, said she spoke to Capt. Neil Ruggiero from JGPO in June and told him that she would not allow anyone to enter her property for any purpose.

Pisarri said Ruggiero stated that much of the military land was saving the lives of various animals, as in a conservation area for birds. She said it unnerved her that the federal government would first consider displacing people who have lived on their lands for years, who use the land to farm for food.


Superior Court Judge Steven Unpingco, a resident of the Sasayan area, also supported the resolution. “Guam will need every square meter of land to keep our community safe. The upshot of condemning GovGuam land is that Guam's responsibility to provide for the future and Guam's ability to secure financing will be stifled and the impact will be devastating to the quality of life for all,” said Unpingco.

If government land is taken and the local leaders are amenable to these takings, Unpingco said, this would mean more public lands are susceptible to further takings because of the unpredictability and contingencies of war and national security interests.

Unpingco said if the Marines’ relocation were to happen, then GovGuam will have no choice but to take away private land from residents and the intergovernmental domino effect “will change Guam's demographics and way of life forever.”

“As described by a high ranking military official in a cable news documentary interview, “after the buildup, Guam will be a floating battleship,” he added.

Unpingco said the U.S. military has a moral duty to consider the history of the federal landtakings and reflect on the “dark chapter of land being taken away by coercion and oppression.”

Guthertz said the hearing brought up many concerns that cannot be ignored. Guthertz said the resolution will send a clear message to Washington that land condemnation by the federal government will not be tolerated.

Tiyan parkway discussions to pick back up

Tiyan parkway discussions to pick back up

Posted: Dec 29, 2009 5:47 PM PST
by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Tiyan landowners should have a better idea of where the Government of Guam intends to build the Tiyan Parkway in the next few weeks. Public Works Director Larry Perez says after a brief break for the holidays, discussions will resume next week Friday, specifically with the airport.

DPW is hoping to work out a deal with the Guam International Airport Authority to utilize airport property for the roadway. Tiyan landowners have pushed for the parkway to be built solely on airport property to prevent any of their land from being taken away as one proposed option was to place the road in the middle of the homes there.

Perez says they are looking for a win-win solution and negotiations with the airport should be completed sometime in January.

PNC :: Guam & Territorial Issues In Focus At National AG Meeting

PNC :: Guam & Territorial Issues In Focus At National AG Meeting

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Guam - Multiple issues that affect the U.S. territories in the Pacific region were addressed by Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco,

Assistant Secretary Anthony Babauta, U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, and UOG President Dr. Robert A. Underwood during a recent national meeting held by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

The Plenary Session titled “Issues Facing the United States Territories – Their Unique Status” was chaired by Attorney General Limtiaco and included, in addition to Babauta and Underwood, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer, and Peter Hiebert, Legal Counsel, U.S. Virgin Islands Government.

The meeting marked the first time in NAAG’s history that a panel on Pacific Island issues was included in a NAAG national meeting. It was made possible after a request was made by Attorney General Limtiaco to NAAG and the Planning Committee of the 2009 Winter Meeting.

Assisting Attorney General Limtiaco in the planning and organization of the panel discussion were U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer and American Samoa Attorney General Fepulea’i Afa (Arthur) Ripley, Jr.

“The issues that Assistant Secretary Babauta, Dr. Underwood and I, along with General Frazer and Attorney Hiebert, discussed will go a long way in helping other jurisdictions better understand the unique status of Guam and other Pacific Island territories and the issues that affect them,” Attorney General Limtiaco said.

Some of the issues that were discussed by the panel included national security, the impact of the military buildup in Guam, island resources and infrastructures, the economy, trade, labor, and immigration.

The meeting served as a venue to provide information and insight to Attorney General members of NAAG on key issues that impact Pacific Island territories, which may differ from or have no application to the states.

The participation of Assistant Secretary Babauta, via video, and Dr. Underwood, via teleconference, provided other Attorneys General from all over the United States with a comprehensive overview of the challenges Guam faces in different areas, Attorney General Limtiaco said.

Assistant Secretary Babauta also spoke about matters relative to all U.S. possessions in the Pacific region, which are under the purview of the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.

“I believe that it is through this networking and comprehension of each jurisdiction’s legal and socio-economic-related concerns that progress will continue to be made in the various areas that were discussed,” Attorney General Limtiaco said.

The National Association of Attorneys General is comprised of the Attorneys General of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, and the commonwealths of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

Part of NAAG’s mission is to improve the quality of legal services provided to the states and territories, as well as to facilitate communication between the states’ chief legal officers and all levels of government.

Attorney General Limtiaco is a co-chair of the NAAG Criminal Law and Youth Access to Alcohol and Drugs Committees.

AG Dr Underwood: Guam Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco, standing, and Attorneys General from various states listen to UOG President Dr. Robert Underwood via teleconference during the National Association of Attorneys General 2009 Winter Meeting. Underwood's powerpoint presentation is seen on the screen at right. The meeting marked the first time that issues affecting Guam and other pacific islands were included in the national meetings.

NAAG Winter Meeting: Guam Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco, right, Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer, middle, and Peter Hiebert, Legal Counsel, U.S. Virgin Islands, listen as Assistant Secretary Anthony Babauta, U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, speaks via video during the National Association of Attorneys General 2009 Winter Meeting. Babauta, along with UOG President Dr. Robert Underwood, were members of the "Issues Facing the United States Territories - Their Unique Status" panel, which General Limtiaco chaired. It was the first time that issues affecting pacific islands were included in the national meetings.

Written by : News Release

Residents Testify Against Federal Land Condemnation

Residents Testify Against Federal Land Condemnation

Guam - Dozens of island residents from all walks of life showed up to testify in favor of Resolution 258 a resolution

Introduced by Senator Judi Guthertz to strongly oppose the condemnation of lands for use by the military.

Panel after panel of people spoke out today in favor of Resolution 258 and in opposition to the military's proposed taking of both government and private properties. Chamorro rights activist Danny "Pagat" Jackson said he felt the Chamorro people were "an endangered species in their own land."

In it's Draft EIS the military has proposed the possibility of taking over 2000 acres of additional property from the people of Guam for use as a firing range. One of the proposals calls for taking lands along the eastern shore of Guam in the Pagat area including the Marbo caves and Sasayan valley area. Today the Guam legislature heard from dozens of people both old and young alike.

Laura Nelson asked senators to consider her generation and give them the same opportunities and lifestyle their generation had been afforded as she said she knew that the military buildup would change the lives of all who live on Guam.

Some testified because they either owned or lived on property that the military is proposing to take. Others like businessman Henry Simpson testified because the proposed firing range would close down his Guam Raceway Park. The park is a popular attraction for auto, drag race, and offroad enthusiasts. Others testified because they have simply been opposed to the military buildup from the very beginning. Former Nacion Chamoru Magalahi Ben Garrido says he and the Chamoru Nation have been testifying against the buildup for years often in the face of ridicule and laughter. He said "Look where we're at now."

Even Superior court Judge Steven Unpingco testified in favor of the resolution citing among many reasons the environmental impacts the proposed firing range would have on the Sasayan valley. It's a valley Judge Unpingco says offers both recreational activities like hiking to the marbo caves and traditional fishing areas.

Unpigco questioned the reasoning behind the military's need for additional property considering the fact that they already own 40 thousand acres or 27 percent of Guam's land. Judge Unpingco even suggested that the military could use other areas like Pati point.

Unpingco also brought up Guam's borrowing capacity something that is limited by the total value of Govguam property. Guam will need this borrowing capacity in order to beef up it's infrastructure for the military buildup.

Written by :
Clynt Ridgell

Huge crowd at Resolution 258's public hearing

Huge crowd at Resolution 258's public hearing

Posted: Dec 28, 2009 10:55 PM PST
by Nick Delgado

Guam - It was a packed house at the Guam Legislature's Public Hearing Room this morning as dozens of people came out to testify in support of Resolution 258 that opposes the use of condemnation for the purpose of obtaining Guam lands for the military buildup.

While the Department of Defense currently possesses nearly 30% of land on the island, it was apparent by the emotional testimony provided today that there are many island residents who aren't just concerned about the impacts the Marines' relocation will have on our community, but to their livelihoods and land.

Emotions ran high during today's public hearing as residents expressed their frustration with the possibility of land condemnation, as well as their support for the resolution that would prevent the feds from taking their land. "I the landowners say I'm sorry, my land is not for sale, you need to respect that. If the government says the land is not available because it's committed for something else, they need to respect that. But they have to work together to find alternatives, too," said Senator Judi Guthertz.

She is the author of Resolution 258 and chaired today's hearing. The senator pointed out the areas the military plans to use for its main base as stated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Those areas which are currently non-DoD property include 680 acres of the former FAA housing area, 326 more acres in what's called the Harmon Annex, and the biggest piece of 921 acres of land along Route 15. All which are under private or GovGuam owners today.

"These plans are in the best interest of Americans in the states. When will our best interests be considered? You must consider our best interests now!" proclaimed GovGuam retiree Gloria Nelson.

She argued island leaders are not doing enough, and that due to its lack of unity it seems like leaders are willing to give away the future of our children to the highest bidder. "We cannot stand by idly as our cultural resources, our homes and the futures of our children are trampled upon, given away or sold to those who do not truly value it. We have the right to control our lands and our destinies for the sake of our children," she added.

Superior Court Judge Steven Unpingco objecting to the possibility of land condemnation spoke on his personal capacity as a landowner of the Sasayan Valley. Unpingco saying there is no need for the military to acquire non-Department of Defense land as he believes the military has sufficient land to accommodate the buildup. "DoD owns approximately 40,000 acres comprised of 27% of Guam's total land mass...there are serious public concerns on the proposed activity to conduct live fire training facility in the Sasayan Valley."

Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz, meanwhile, wants more in the community to voice their concerns with the buildup, especially any and all concerns they have with his measure which would have left the option of the Marines relocation up to the people of Guam. "All of you need to get up and tell them no! I am diametrically opposed to the buildup. It's not an issue of whether or not I want to deny any of you but Bill 66 is only as it relates to the CLTC and the ancestral lands that's the only thing we have control of."

General Manager of the Guam Racing Federation Henry Simpson who also testified is still waiting to find out when, and if military will condemn the land at the entire Guam International Raceway Park for a single shooting range. The park is CLTC property, and Simpson recalls the military telling him that the land would just be convenient.

He said, "I don't think they've done a very good job at looking at all their options. I think it should be a lot ore inconvenient they could live with the property they've got they could fulfill their mission with the property they've got and they could it and do it safely it may cost them more money it may not be as convenient for them but they could do it."

But there was one person, local businessman James Adkins, who showed more support for the military buildup. "I don't think anyone has come up with an alternative to the military coming here. If you have, I would love to hear it, because we have looked everywhere to find other businesses and industries to come here," he said.

But right after, residents expressed their disagreement with Adkins, as well as challenged the senators to act on the plans the military has moving forward.

AGO: Shhh, don’t tell

AGO: Shhh, don’t tell

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:24
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff

AGO upholds agencies’ confidentiality agreement with JGPO

LOCAL government officials were not required to tell lawmakers anything they had learned about the Department of Defense’s plans for the massive military buildup on the island when summoned to testify before the military buildup oversight committee hearing on Oct. 15, according to attorney general Alicia Limtiaco.

In a legal opinion released yesterday, Limtiaco took note of the nondisclosure agreement that local officials signed with the Joint Guam Program Office.

Limtiaco said the communications between the agencies and JGPO were “predecisional” and protected from the Freedom of Information Act.

“The terms of the nondisclosure agreement evidence the expectations of the federal government that the document and discussion surrounding it are deemed sensitive and confidential, and therefore protected by the deliberative process privilege and executive privilege,” Limtiaco said.

Muted testimony

Limtiaco’s opinion, released by the governor’s office yesterday, was sought by lawmakers who asked whether local statute mandated or exempted government officials from testifying about what was contained in the military impact report.

Heads and representatives from the Bureau of Statistics and Planning, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Department of Public Works were required to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a precondition and prior to being allowed to provide feedback to JGPO about the impact study.

Only a few of the individuals summoned to testify at the oversight hearing conducted by Sen. Judi Guthertz’ committee actually showed up.

No one would talk about anything they gleaned from the study causing lawmakers to threaten them with contempt.

But Limtiaco described the procedures on legislative contempt as “inorganic.”

Suspect language

Limtiaco states it is "constitutionally suspect, not because of the breadth of the legislature's investigatory authority...but because of the vagueness of the process and procedures outlined in the law governing the legislature's exercise of its contempt powers to enforce compliance."

She makes three points on this matter. First, that the statue is unclear as to what due process is afforded a person who has been subpoenaed and declines to comply on the basis of a recognized privilege.

Second, the law provides that a witness is entitled to “explain and defend” the statute governing governmental privileges.

Third, the law limits the scope of judicial review by the courts on the merits of a finding of legislative contempt, "relegating the courts to merely enforcing a finding of contempt." ”It is our opinion the deliberative process and executive privileges, rooted in the doctrine of separation of powers established in the Organic Act, are due to be protected from Legislative inquiry," Limtiaco stated.

"Finally, the statue governing the legislature's contempt procedures that appear to bar even the mention of governmental privileges and separation of powers as an argument before the legislature in defense of subpoena, and the exclusion of even the possibility of judicial review on the merits of a finding of legislative contempt is simply unauthorized in our constitutional system of laws,” she added,

Japanese survey report ‘iffy’ on local labor

Japanese survey report ‘iffy’ on local labor

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:22
by Romeo Carlos | Variety News Staff

THE New Year will dawn pregnant with uncertainty about the massive militarization of Guam. But it becomes clearer with each passing day that local workers and government coffers will not benefit so much from the economic promise of the military buildup as ballyhooed. What was not so clear until recently, however, is how local and U.S. hiring priorities may impact Japanese companies that will get a hefty share of the multi-billion buildup purse.

A 2007 Overseas Construction Costs Survey commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Defense was presented earlier this month to a group of companies in Tokyo preparing to bid on military buildup projects valued at as much as $2 billion.

But a lack of a comprehensive U.S. planning and severe labor concerns could contribute to further delaying the Pentagon’s time-line for a troops transfer from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

Yamashita Construction Corporation researched how much it would cost Japanese contractors to do business on Guam with the military realignment projects about to hit the pipeline.

Holidays on Mondays

The Japanese survey report quantifying the real cost of labor at the unit level pointed to the lower wages for local Guam workers than in Japan or on the U.S. mainland as a plus.

But the blunt analysis goes on to caution “low levels of productivity with more time spent per unit of work, and the limited number of workers…labor costs in whole may be higher than expected for the overall construction project.”

The survey noted that local workers are often taking “holidays” on Mondays following the bimonthly pay period and would thus contribute to absenteeism and worker shortage on projects.

A Guam-based Japanese businessman liaising with potential business interests from Japan echoes the construction survey assessments and insists the U.S. government has to do something to address the worker shortage if the buildup projects are not to fall victim to cost overruns.

Not clear

Japanese researchers discovered what island residents and some lawmakers are still complaining about, two years after the report was first delivered to Japanese officials: the lack of a clear design or quantitative survey reports about the buildup upon which to perform proper costs analysis and planning make it a risky venture.

“There are limited skilled workers on Guam, and due to poor productivity, one project may need twice the number of workers or hours to complete than it would in Japan. And the Hawaiian congressman (Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-HI) making it harder to hire from the Philippines now. That changes everything really,” the Japanese businessman told Variety.

“This is something that has to be rethought,” he added, warning about requirements to hire local and U.S. workers first.

With the election of a new ruling party in Japan and the election of President Obama - the local Japanese agent for an Osaka-based company told Variety, “Our prime minister is acting bewildered and the U.S. has not made plans for getting enough workers, some companies want to come and see for themselves what is happening on Guam now.”

Bill seeks tax credit to revitalize schools

Bill seeks tax credit to revitalize schools

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:11
by Jude Lizama | Variety News Staff

FINANCIAL contributors who choose to take part in the maintenance, repair, upgrade, or construction of a local public school facility would benefit from proposed tax credits if a bill introduced by Sen. Eddie Calvo is passed into law.

Bill 302 notes that many public schools on island are in poor shape due to the lack of vital operations and maintenance.

The bill seeks to present the tax credit benefit as leverage to initiate needed upgrades to Guam Department of Education schools so that they may be “restored to a usable and safe condition in order to ensure that students are provided with a venue to hold their classes, athletic competitions among public and private schools, science fairs, school plays, and dances, among other curricular and extracurricular activities.”

The bill discusses the revenues that would be generated next year as a result of the military buildup, and notes that “that a portion of the projected growth in the government of Guam revenues from the buildup is set to begin in 2010 should be invested in the education of our children.”

Under the bill, individuals, sole proprietorship or partnerships would be authorized tax credits against gross receipts taxes in exchange for their contributions to the improvements of public school facilities.

The tax credit would be equivalent to 75 percent of “the actual cost of the contribution to the project plus the cost of transportation, if any, from the point of origin to its destination.” Unused credits may be carried on to subsequent tax periods.

The proposed processes would be developed by the Guam Economic Development Authority.

RP group likely to grow further

RP group likely to grow further

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:10
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

FOREIGN workers hired under the H2B program to fill the workforce void during the military buildup are likely to stay behind and make Guam their home, according to the draft environmental impact statement.

Based on multiple interviews with construction contractors familiar with Guam projects, it is expected that a large proportion of H2B workers will originate from the Philippines.

Furthermore, since two-thirds of Guam’s foreign-born population is from the Philippines, it is expected that most “stay-behind” workers and related future population growth would originate from there, stated the report.

Increased migration

The immersion of the migrant worker into the Guam population will further encourage increased migration, resulting in a population boom on island, the study said.

Many working immigrants are younger people who have children over time, so that their population impacts accrue gradually, the buildup planners stated in the report.

Typical to socioeconomic impact assessment and assumed in this analysis is the assumption that migrant households have an average household size either like the place where they come, or the place where they are going, in this case, Guam, which captures the probable long term population size.

The “out-migration” of these populations is also an issue. The question that remains to be answered is whether the temporary H-2B worker population will leave Guam when their time of employment ends. The report assumes that the H-2B population will leave as military construction concludes. However, there is a concern that out-migration might not be so prompt.

While employers of H2B workers are required to prove that workers have left Guam once the particular project the worker was brought in for is completed, there are anecdotal reports of “stay-behind” H2B workers who have married Guam residents and in that way become permanent residents.

’Stay-behind migrants’

There are also concerns that migrants from freely associated states and the CNMI who come to Guam for construction-period jobs but either do not become employed or lose those jobs may stay on Guam as well, according to the report.

FAS and CNMI migrants have the status of U.S. citizens and can migrate within the U.S. without constraint. Developing an estimated number of “stay-behind” H2B workers is problematic because the factors involved are each difficult to measure and produce ambiguous results. Nonetheless, studies do show that stay-behind workers can be expected.

Finally, the Guam Department of Labor has concerns that immigration flows stemming from temporary workers can generate more immigrants than there were visas originally allocated.

It was also noted that U.S. immigration policy can inherently lead to increased immigration over-time, wherein family members apply to have relatives immigrate, increasing the number of immigrants.

Navy to fence off Tinian training sites

Navy to fence off Tinian training sites

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:07
by Jude Lizama | Variety News Staff

THE proposed training sites on Tinian will be fenced to ensure public safety during exercise, according to the draft environmental impact statement.

A total of five security gates would be constructed as part of the proposed action. However, the draft study states that the location of security gates would “not vary with alternative.”

“There would be relatively the same potential characteristics for closure and availability under all action alternatives,” the draft statement said.

The military is enhancing three training facilities on Tinian in preparation for training activities of U.S. Marines who will be relocated from Okinawa to Guam.

Danger zones

A similar component of all three alternatives is the inclusion of surface danger zones; and the development of rifle known distance, automated combat pistol/multipurpose firearm qualification course, platoon battle course, and field firing live fire training ranges.

According to the impact statement, the primary difference among alternatives is the location and orientation of the firing ranges and “associated notional surface danger zones.”

Under the “alternative 1”—the preferred option—all four proposed ranges would be located in the south-central portion of the military lease area within the area delineated by 8th Avenue, 90th Street and Broadway.

Additionally, all alternative 1 live fire range footprints would partially overlay the Federation Aviation Administration mitigation area, and all associated danger zones would “extend over the FAA mitigation area, DoD ‘s “No Wildlife Disturbance” Mount Lasso escarpment area and a segment of Broadway.

The preferred alternative “was evaluated to ensure it met the purpose and need “to locate U.S. military forces within a timely response range to meet international agreement and treaty requirements and to fulfill U.S. national security policy requirements to provide mutual defense, deter aggression, and dissuade coercion in the Western Pacific Region.”

Awaiting ROD

The study states that the U.S Navy will not make its decision on a final alternative “until the Record of Decision is signed” at the conclusion of the National Environmental Policy Act process.

Alternative 2 proposes a northeast range alignment that avoids the FAA mitigation area and Mount Lasso escarpment area for its field firing range. Its associated danger zones extend over the ocean.

Out of all three proposals, alternative 3 proposes to situate three of four ranges at the military lease area’s southern boundary, which keeps three of four range footprints out of the FAA mitigation area. If implemented, layout plans of alternative 3 affect the least amount of surface area.

Full move to Guam nixed

Full move to Guam nixed

Monday, 28 December 2009 04:36
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff

Report blows whistle on 10,000 ‘ghost troops’

JAPAN’S Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has dropped his administration’s tentative proposal to relocate the entire U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Okinawa to Guam, saying the idea was “unrealistic in light of the deterrence'' provided by the U.S. forces, Kyodo News reported yesterday.

“'There was a time when we should have studied the possibility of total relocation (of Futemma Air Station) to Guam,” Kyodo news quoted Hatoyama as saying.

He suggested that Japan may have no other choice but to stick to the 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan, which involves the transfer of 8,000 U.S. Marine Corp troops and their dependents.

With Hatoyama giving up the complete transfer of Marines to Guam, the government will now have to seek alternative sites in Japan as no other overseas location for hosting the U.S. military base is being considered, according to Kyodo News.

A Japanese expert on international affairs, however, claimed the relocation plan was based on a bogus blueprint with numbers fabricated by Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Ghost troops

Tanaka Sakai, creator and editor of Tanaka News, said the Foreign Ministry fabricated 10,000 “phantom troops” to maintain a myth that 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa after the transfer of 8,000 units to Guam.

Citing figures from the American Military’s Japan headquarters, Sakai said the actual numbers of Okinawa-based Marines are 12,500 and 8,000 dependents for a total of 20,500.

“Now if we close our eyes to the negative number of family members, the total number of Marines and their dependents remaining on Okinawa should only be 3,500,” Sakai in his article titled "Japanese Bureaucrats Hide Decision to Move All US Marines out of Okinawa to Guam," published by The Asia-Pacific Journal Dec. 21.

“The Okinawa-based Marines are steadily moving to Guam while leaving a phantom force of 10,000 and continuing to receive huge sums of money from Japan. However, on the premise that 10,000 Marines will remain, talk continues about the need to build a new base in Henoko and the voices of opposition of the Okinawa people grow louder,” Sakai said.

White elephant

He suggested that the Henoko project, which consists of barracks and entertainment facilities, would be further wasteful spending because the facility would be used only briefly at the height of the troop relocation in 2014.

The “phantom troops” were presented in the plan to justify the Henoko project, which Sakai said was the Japanese government’s way of pleasing and bribing the United States.

The 2006 accord between the United States and Japan was forged when the Liberal Democratic Party was the ruling administration, which was perceived to be sympathetic to the United States.

On the other hand, Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan, which defeated LDP in the August elections, has been showing resistance to the U.S. pressure.

Full relocation

The idea of relocating the entire Futenma force to Guam originally came from the United States, according to Sakai.

The proposal was actually included in the “Guam Integrated Military Development Plan” which was drawn up in July of 2006 and released in September.

“The American military, knowing that Japan would pay the construction costs, can be thought to have decided on a plan to develop Guam as a unique global integrated military center,” Sakai wrote.

“The U.S.-Japan Roadmap had earlier called for the removal of Marines from Okinawa to Guam ‘in a manner that maintains unit integrity.’ This also hinted that the transfer would not only involve Marine Corps headquarters but the relocation of combat units as well,” he added.

The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan was posted on the Department of Defense’s website in September, but was deleted one week later, Sakai said.

“Perhaps the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan revealed too much, causing fear that people would wake up to the fact that the Okinawa-based Marines were planning a complete withdrawal. It may have been this fear that caused the site to disappear so quickly,” Sakai said.

Legislature, landowners to tackle land resolution

Legislature, landowners to tackle land resolution

Monday, 28 December 2009 04:31
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

RESOLUTION 258 will be heard at 9 a.m. tomorrow in the legislature's public hearing room and its author, Sen. Judi Guthertz, hopes for a big attendance in support of the measure.

Bill 258 expresses the strong opposition of the 30th Guam Legislature and the people of Guam to any use of condemnation for the purpose of obtaining lands for the military buildup or other federal government purposes.

Guthertz also hopes that military representatives will listen carefully and understand how sensitive the issue of the military taking of lands through the method of condemnation is.

“If in fact they have any plans on using land condemnation as a last resort, they must abandon that thought and that plan,” said Guthertz, who chairs the Committee on the Guam military buildup and Homeland Security.

Waste of time

Former Sen. Ted Nelson, whose family owns the property in the Marbo area in Yigo, said yesterday the military must understand that there is a difference between government-owned land and land owned by private owners.

“The federal government should deal directly with the private property owners, but they have ignored us. If they decide to condemn lands, then our input in the draft environmental impact study during those village meetings they held were a waste of time,” said Nelson.

Guthertz believes land-taking will further widen the gap between the military and the citizens of Guam. “If it is a pursued approach, they will alienate many people in this community and I think it would have a very negative impact on the reception of the people of Guam to this buildup,” said the senator.

Proper and fair

“I just want it to be done properly and fairly. And if the military really want to be a partner they have to respect the unfortunate experiences the people of Guam went through in reference to land taking and they have to resist any initiative to replicate that in the future,” she said.

Nelson said that if the federal government is determined to condemn lands, then landowners who desire to sell their property must be paid the fair market value of the lands taken by condemnation. “With our tiny landmass, we're talking about millions of dollars worth of properties. Will they give landowners fair market value?” he asked.

But even then, said Nelson, the federal government has the ultimate say.

“In the end, who can prohibit the use of the power of eminent domain to take private property to be used for the buildup? Only the federal government has this authority,” said Nelson.

The government of Guam also has the power to condemn lands for public use.

Lost assets

Speaker Judi Won Pat noted that many Chamorro families have seen the loss of many of its assets through condemnation.

While supporters of such condemnation argue they should be upheld so long as the landowner receives "just compensation," landowners know from experience that forced taking of their lands almost never results in a fair economic result for the landowner, the speaker said.

Further, it does not compensate landowners for the emotional loss of inherited lands that have been theirs for generations. “Condemnation of lands goes beyond whether a family received fair market value. It is the loss of a legacy that was intended for the benefit of the future generations of those family members who left it to be cared for and passed on,” said Won Pat.

DEIS outlines training procedures on Tiyan

DEIS outlines training procedures on Tiyan

Monday, 28 December 2009 04:27
by Jude Lizama | Variety News Staff

THE proposed Tinian-based U.S. Marines training facilities cited in the draft environmental statement impact cites certain priorities for proper use and management focused on the areas including personnel, environmental and civilian safety.

According to the impact statement, the military would schedule any training activities one week in advance, and would also engage in public notification initiatives through the media.

Additionally, the draft study states that “biosecurity training would be coordinated through informal consultations,” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources through regional training authority one-week prior to training events.

Environmental briefings, including brown tree snake control, would also be completed prior to departure.

Cultural resource briefing would be completed prior to departure. Authorized USDA inspectors would conduct inspection of supplies and equipment before such shipments bound for Tinian are to be cleared.

The construction of fences, security gates, and range flag poles would be constructed around designated training areas to ensure that necessary portions of the training site are “clear of non-participating personnel during live firing to avoid the potential for injury from ricochet or misdirected shots.”

The draft impact study also assumes that “access to the [military lease area] would be in accordance with Marine Corps safety regulations and would vary depending on the type of training activity that is being conducted. As an example, live-fire activities on proposed ranges would require limited access to the [lease area] on the eastern side of Tinian.”

Limitations to access and various security requirements would be “part of the standard operating procedures for all ranges. The extent of fencing has not been determined, but roads would be gated and range control personnel would survey the area for unauthorized people.

Available monitoring capabilities would be utilized to assure public safety during training events. Training units would have direct communications with range control, and would fly a large red flag when the [training area] is in use,” according to the study.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Indian tribes buy back thousands of acres of land

Indian tribes buy back thousands of acres of land

By TIMBERLY ROSS, Associated Press Writer Timberly Ross, Associated Press Writer – Sun Dec 27, 1:42 pm ET

OMAHA, Neb. – Native American tribes tired of waiting for the U.S. government to honor centuries-old treaties are buying back land where their ancestors lived and putting it in federal trust.

Native Americans say the purchases will help protect their culture and way of life by preserving burial grounds and areas where sacred rituals are held. They also provide land for farming, timber and other efforts to make the tribes self-sustaining.

Tribes put more than 840,000 acres — or roughly the equivalent of the state of Rhode Island — into trust from 1998 to 2007, according to information The Associated Press obtained from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Freedom of Information Act.

Those buying back land include the Winnebago, who have put more than 700 acres in eastern Nebraska in federal trust in the past five years, and the Pawnee, who have 1,600 acres of trust land in Oklahoma. Land held in federal trust is exempt from local and state laws and taxes, but subject to most federal laws.

Three tribes have bought land around Bear Butte in South Dakota's Black Hills to keep it from developers eager to cater to the bikers who roar into Sturgis every year for a raucous road rally. About 17 tribes from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Oklahoma still use the mountain for religious ceremonies.

Emily White Hat, a member of South Dakota's Rosebud Sioux, said the struggle to protect the land is about "preservation of our culture, our way of life and our traditions."

"All of it is connected," White Hat said. "With your land, you have that relationship to the culture."

Other members of the Rosebud Sioux, such as president Rodney Bordeaux, believe the tribes shouldn't have to buy the land back because it was illegally taken. But they also recognize that without such purchases, the land won't be protected.

No one knows how much land the federal government promised Native American tribes in treaties dating to the late 1700s, said Gary Garrison, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. The government changed the terms of the treaties over the centuries to make property available to settlers and give rights-of-way to railroads and telegraph companies.

President Barack Obama's administration has proposed spending $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations. The program would pay individual members for land interests divided among their relatives and return the land to tribal control. But it would not buy land from people outside the tribes.

Today, 562 federally recognized tribes have more than 55 million acres held in trust, according to the bureau. Several states and local governments are fighting efforts to add to that number, saying the federal government doesn't have the authority to take land — and tax revenue — from states.

In New York, for example, the state and two counties filed a federal lawsuit in 2008 to block the U.S. Department of Interior from putting about 13,000 acres into trust for the Oneida Tribe. In September, a judge threw out their claims.

Putting land in trust creates a burden for local governments because they must still provide services such as sewer and water even though they can't collect taxes on the property, said Elaine Willman, a member of the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance and administrator for Hobart, a suburb of Green Bay, Wis. Hobart relies mostly on property taxes to pay for police, water and other services, but the village of about 5,900 lost about a third of its land to a trust set up for the state's Oneida Tribe, Willman said.

So far, Hobart has been able to control spending and avoid cuts in services or raising taxes, Willman said. Village leaders hope taxes on a planned 603-acre commercial development will eventually help make up for the lost money.

The nonprofit White Earth Land Recovery Project has bought back or been gifted hundreds of acres in northwestern Minnesota since it was created in the late 1980s. The White Earth tribe uses the land to harvest rice, farm and produce maple syrup. Members have hope of one day being self-sustaining again.

Winona LaDuke, who started the White Earth project, said buying property is expensive, but it's the quickest and easiest way for tribes to regain control of their land.

Tribal membership has been growing thanks to higher birth rates, longer life spans and more relaxed qualifications for membership, and that has created a greater need for land for housing, community services and economic development.

"If the tribes were to pursue return of the land in the courts it would be years before any action could result in more tribal land ... and the people simply cannot wait," said Cris Stainbrook, of the Little Canada, Minn.-based Indian Land Tenure Foundation.

Thirty to 40 tribes are making enough money from casinos to buy back land, but they also have to put money into social programs, education and health care for their members, said Robert J. Miller, a professor at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., who specializes in tribal issues.

"Tribes just have so many things on their plate," he said.

Some tribes, such as the Pawnee, have benefited from gifts of land. Gaylord and Judy Mickelsen donated a storefront in Dannebrog, Neb., that had been in Judy Mickelsen's family for a century. The couple was retiring to Mesquite, Nev., in 2007, and Judy Mickelsen wanted to see the building preserved even though the town had seen better days.

The tribe has since set up a shop selling members' artwork in the building on Main Street.

"We were hoping the Pawnee could get a toehold here and get a new venture for the village of Dannebrog," Gaylord Mickelsen said.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sasayan landowners stand their ground: Residents refuse military's requests to survey land in northern Guam

Sasayan landowners stand their ground: Residents refuse military's requests to survey land in northern Guam

By Amritha Alladi • Pacific Daily News • December 28, 2009

Landowner Joseph Sgambelluri shows the pristine beachside of the Sasayan area in northern Guam on Dec. 18.

Sixty-one-year-old Lourdes Sgambelluri Pisarri remembers learning to swim in the Marbo Caves.

When she was 6, her grandfather, Marcello Sgambelluri, took her down to the freshwater caves, where she saw lobster and shrimp crawling at the bottom of the pool, and the stalactites and stalagmites jutting from its walls.

"It's freshwater that abuts the ocean. It's one of the most miraculous things that you can have," Pisarri said. "A freshwater pool, and the ocean is right there next to it."

But in a few months, access to those caves may be limited, and the lands where Pisarri's family farmed may be tainted with runoff from a decontamination facility and shooting range to be built there by the military, as part of their buildup projects, Pisarri said.

It's about 1,000 acres of ancestral land that's been in the Sgambelluri family for almost 100 years, Pisarri said. Now, the military is planning to construct a Marine training facility there.

"It's really a travesty of justice," she said.

Pisarri, who currently lives in New York, said she received a letter from the military earlier this year, asking if it could survey her lands and perform EPA studies there, she said.

In response, Pisarri wrote a letter to the director of the Joint Guam Program Office, John Jackson, saying she didn't want the military to place one foot on her property. She copied the letter to President Obama, Guam delegate Madeleine Bordallo, Gov. Felix Camacho, Sen. Judith Guthertz, and Retired Adm. Ed Kristensen among others, of whom only Guthertz, chairwoman of the Legislature's buildup committee, responded to the letter, she said.

"Bottom line is, I did write to the military to tell them -- in no uncertain terms --that I didn't want anybody stepping one foot on my property," Pisarri said. "I also told them I don't want one coconut tree destroyed that my grandfather planted 90 years ago."

Instead, Pisarri suggested the military use their own unused lands within the Andersen Air Force Base, but JGPO officials have told her EPA regulations prohibit the use of those lands.

"Frankly, (JGPOs public information officer Capt. Neil Ruggiero) stated that much of the military land was saving the lives of various animals, as an conservation area for birds," Pisarri wrote to JGPO.

'Displacing people'

"It unnerved me that you would first consider displacing people who have lived on our land for many years."

A statement provided by Ruggiero to the Pacific Daily News last week reiterated the Defense Department has tried to utilize its own property for the military realignment, but must follow federal environmental laws and planning processes to determine the best locations for the facilities and ranges necessary for the military realignment.

"The military is also considering feedback collected through discussions with village mayors, Government of Guam officials, and the Legislature. Through this process it has been determined that certain facilities, such as training ranges, will not fit on DOD properties without possible negative effects on Guam's citizens," Ruggiero said. "We have also learned that it may be wise to develop property near existing bases to allow functions to be grouped together in one location and eliminate the need to travel from one range or training area to another. This will ease impacts, such as traffic, on the surrounding community."
But Pisarri and other residents have said land leasing, monetary compensation, or the promise of providing land elsewhere are not options they would consider because most residents in the area acknowledge the land's value.

For example, Pisarri's brother, Joseph Sgambelluri, said the land in the Sasayan area facing the ocean is ideal for them to build family homes for their children to settle down.

"This area here is just too nice, too beautiful to use as a military site," added Virginia Stadler, another resident of the valley. "There are people that are thinking of building their homes ... to pass it on to their children and grandchildren."

Plus, Pisarri said the Chamorros are still waiting to be compensated for the way they were mistreated during World War II.

"My parents and the rest of the people on Guam have not yet been compensated by the United States," she said, adding the Japanese, the Jewish, the Native Americans, the Filipinos, and residents of Saipan have all been compensated after the atrocities they've faced throughout history.

"Why are the people of Guam being discriminated (against)? Why have they not been compensated?" she said.

But perhaps there's hope for the Sgambelluri family.

Land condemnation

Guthertz has said she and other Guam senators have obtained assurances from JGPO Executive Director Retired Maj. Gen. David Bice, that condemnation is not part of the plan for obtaining buildup lands. However, in a recent television appearance, Jackson said that all options including condemnation are "on the table," creating further confusion.

Thus, Guthertz will be holding a public hearing tomorrow to allow Guam residents to voice their concerns.

Joseph Sgambelluri will be among those present at the hearing to share their comments. Pisarri said her brother will be reading out her letter at the hearing, since she's miles away.

"I've been fighting the fight for a while now. I just know that people need to voice their opinion," Pisarri said. "We don't mind bringing men to Guam, but this is an overtaking."

Indefinite hold

Indefinite hold

Written by Margaret Jao-Grey
Not Business as Usual / margiegrey_ph@yahoo.com
Sunday, 27 December 2009 17:55

Did you know 1: Uh-oh. The processing of 20,000 Filipino workers expected to work in Guam next year is now on indefinite hold. That means the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration may have to significantly revise downwards its rosy projections for next year.

Right now, the Japanese and the Americans aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the conditions leading to the relocation of 8,000 Okinawa-based US Marines and their 9,000 dependents to American territory.

As it is, Japan, which is footing the bulk of the $10 billion needed for the relocation, has already handed over the first installment of $350 million to the US government (read: no refunds allowed should the relocation not take place) as scheduled). For its part, the US Congress has drastically reduced its first counterpart funding from $300 million to $89 million.

YouNex greenlit to build $200M facility

YouNex greenlit to build $200M facility

Posted: Dec 27, 2009 4:36 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2009 6:16 PM

by Michele Catahay

Guam - YouNex Enterprises Corporation recently signed a contract to design, build and assist with the operations and management of an 18,000-bed workforce village. The project is expected to house foreign workers during the construction phase of the military buildup on Guam.

A signing ceremony was held in Seoul, Korea last week by STX Group and YouNex to pave the way for construction for a new facility to house foreign workers for the military buildup. The contract is valued at approximately $200 million to design, build and assist with the operations and management of an 18,0000-bed, fully integrated workforce village to house temporary labor. The project, Ukudu Workforce Village, will be located in the Harmon Annex, bordering the Navy's South Finegayan Family Housing Facility and just north of Two Lovers Point.

The campus will include a medical clinic and fire and security response, transportation for workers to and from worksites and non-work activities, laundry, banking and convenience store services and organized recreational and individual activities to include religious worship facilities.

YouNex Senior Vice President Dave Tydingco said, "We had to go through the land use commission process to rezone the property there, N1, which is a light industrial zone because that was the only zoning that would allow for this type of development. The second phase of planning, which allows for the Land Use Commission to review your site development plan, which was approved on October 29."

Tydingco says the first sector, which will include up to 2000 beds will open up on October 2010. He says depending on the demand of workforce housing, YouNex could construct up to 18,000 beds, if necessary. "We provide a solution that allows for maximum benefits to the customer with the customers being contractors and minimal impact to the community," he continued. "It is isolated and we'll be able to contain and control the foreign workforce population that will be there."

YouNex will not only help with work force housing, but Tydingco says there may be a possibility that his company may help construct residential housing. In fact, he says as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, one of the alternatives is to build housing for military personnel in areas near property they own. "We've actually had initial discussions with JGPO about proposing at least 110 acres of the 252 acres we own for residential housing and we are pursuing that with the military and we hope that if they find it a viable solution, we're prepared to move forward, finance and construct and manage that facility for them," Tydingco said.

Guthertz looks forward to buildup hearing

Guthertz looks forward to buildup hearing

Posted: Dec 27, 2009 4:34 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2009 4:34 PM

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Senator Judi Guthertz says she expects to have a big turnout at her public hearing on Tuesday on the topic of land condemnation by the military for the buildup. Guthertz says she is very concerned that the military will condemn the 2,200acres of additional land it has expressed interest in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and that the community must speak-up now.

"People don't want their land taken away, they can negotiate with private landowners or negotiate with GovGuam, but no land takings or condemnation," said the senator.

Guthertz says her committee will produce a report on the DEIS once her staff has finished its review. As chair of the Legislative Committee on the Military Buildup, Senator Guthertz introduced a resolution that will be heard on Tuesday, which she says opposes any land condemnation for the buildup whatsoever.

Hatoyama nixes Futemma relocation to Guam, eyes alternative Japan site

Hatoyama nixes Futemma relocation to Guam, eyes alternative Japan site

Dec 26 09:44 AM US/Eastern
Kyodo News

(AP) - TOKYO, Dec. 26 (Kyodo) — Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama indicated Saturday he has given up the idea of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Okinawa to Guam, a remark that means the government will seek alternative sites in Japan as no other overseas location for hosting the U.S. military base is being considered.

On the request by the Social Democratic Party, a junior coalition partner of Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, that all Futemma facilities be moved to Guam, the premier questioned the idea in a recording for a radio program.

"It looks as though having everything at Futemma transferred to the U.S. territory of Guam is unrealistic in light of the deterrence" provided by the U.S. forces, Hatoyama said.

"There was a time when we should have studied the possibility of total relocation (of Futemma Air Station) to Guam," Hatoyama said but suggested that now no other relocation to Guam is possible except the transfer of 8,000 U.S. Marine Corp troops as agreed between Japan and the United States.

The DPJ-led coalition has decided to delay naming a relocation site for the Futemma airfield despite pressure from the United States to stick to the deal agreed on under a 2006 bilateral accord. The agreement calls for the Futemma facility to be moved to Nago, another Okinawa city.

Expectations are growing among people in Okinawa that the government will seek to relocate the facility outside the prefecture in line with the DPJ's stance prior to the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

FOCUS: Japan to see tough time with U.S. in 2010, close ties with Asia

FOCUS: Japan to see tough time with U.S. in 2010, close ties with Asia

Dec. 25, 2009

Japan's ties with the United States are expected to be put to the test in 2010 as the country struggles to settle a row over a U.S. military airfield in Okinawa possibly as a step toward reshaping the decades-old bilateral alliance following Tokyo's historic change of power.

In contrast, the new Japanese government's pro-Asia stance, as seen in its ''East Asian community'' concept, could bring the region closer together, but experts say that a quick breakthrough is unlikely in long-standing territorial and other disputes with China and South Korea.

To raise its presence in the international arena, Japan may also explore ways to further contribute to global security, such as through active participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions.

After taking office in September, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made a smooth diplomatic debut, winning international acclaim for his pledge to set an ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and sharing with Asian countries his long-term view of building an East Asian community, an idea inspired by the European Union.

But it did not take much time for the relationship between Japan and its closest security ally, the United States, to appear strained due to discord over where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station.

The relocation site was agreed on in 2006 as part of a broader accord on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, but the Democratic Party of Japan-led government has pledged to move toward reviewing the deal as part of its policy to seek what it calls more ''equal'' Japan-U.S. ties.

The United States has repeatedly pressed Japan to implement the bilateral agreement to move Futemma to a less densely populated area in Okinawa, but Hatoyama has delayed making a decision on the issue until 2010 and also said he will seek an alternative relocation site.

Indicating the deep concerns Japan has on the issue, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said in early December, ''My experience as a politician is telling me that, unless we steadily deal with this issue, we may see a situation in which both Japan and the United States seriously lose trust in each other.''

The row about the Futemma facility has also cast a shadow over planned consultations between the two countries to review the bilateral alliance, with the year 2010 marking the 50th anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. security treaty.

Okada told a press conference in late December that he hopes to ''move on'' with the consultations while discussing the relocation issue at the same time, but admitted that it is not something he can realize ''right now.''

While Hatoyama's indecisiveness and the differences in opinion seen among Cabinet members on the Futemma issue have given the impression that the government is drifting without a clear direction, speculation is growing that Hatoyama's eyes are actually focused on the creation of new bilateral ties.

''I have had the idea of whether it is appropriate to maintain the presence of another country's military forces (in Japan),'' Hatoyama said in December in explaining a security concept calling for having U.S. forces deployed in Japan only in emergencies. But he noted that he ''must seal'' the idea now that he is prime minister.

Toshikazu Inoue, a Gakushuin University professor, said that Hatoyama's key diplomatic approaches in the last three months have a commonality in that they seek ''a departure'' from Japan's dependence on the United States seen under previous governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party.

While the Futemma issue may become a litmus test of Japan's future diplomatic course, experts and others are divided on whether Tokyo will be able to settle the issue in a way that would mark a historic step toward building a less subservient relationship with the United States.

Government officials are wary about being stuck in a dead-end situation -- either failing to find an alternative relocation site or facing the difficulty of returning to the option of implementing the existing agreement because of possible strong local opposition.

''(By dealing with Futemma and other issues,) I think the DPJ-led government will start to learn that it is impossible to fundamentally change basic national policies related to diplomacy or security,'' Inoue said.

But Yuji Suzuki, a Hosei University professor, speculates that Hatoyama will seek a conclusion to close the Futemma facility and not allow it to be relocated within Okinawa, which is already unhappy about hosting the bulk of U.S. forces in the country because of noise pollution and crimes involving U.S. military personnel.

Such an outcome would not lead to a ''break'' in bilateral ties because Japan and the United States are already ''strongly linked to each other'' in such terms as economic and people-to-people exchanges and because this is a time when the United States appears to be losing its dominant power, Suzuki added.

While ties between Japan and the United States are likely to draw attention in the first half of 2010, Suzuki said that relations with China may be highlighted later in the year such as through the November summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum which Japan will host.

''Japan and the United States may see their ties strain over security issues, but in the latter half they will have to make sure that they cooperate to bring in China to the regional economic framework,'' the professor specializing in Pacific politics said.

Japan is also likely to face the task of accelerating its moves toward the realization of an East Asian community by finding specific areas of cooperation such as anti-piracy and copyrights.

''If cooperation were to be thoroughly focused on single issues, it may be difficult for China to say 'No', because it may also serve its interests,'' Suzuki said.

While Japan's ties with China and South Korea are likely to be relatively stable, it is unlikely to create momentum strong enough to settle its dispute with Beijing over gas field development or its territorial dispute with Seoul over the Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan.

A source close to Japan-South Korea relations warned that there is a possibility that bilateral ties could quickly sour if tension rises over the Takeshima issue, given that 2010 is a rather sensitive year for the two countries -- the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

As for the decades-old territorial row with Russia, Hatoyama, who is known for his close ties with the country, has been eager to resolve the row. But a senior Foreign Ministry official indicated that an immediate breakthrough is not expected.

While Japan is likely to face difficulty in resolving pending bilateral issues, the government may be able to produce results in areas that involve ''multilateral cooperation'' such as climate change, peacekeeping missions, and nuclear disarmament, Inoue said.

''I think Hatoyama's pledge to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent (from 1990 levels by 2020) succeeded in sending a strong message,'' he said.

''Because there is newness in Japan which has undergone a change of power, Japan could raise its presence by working on what may be called nonconventional diplomatic areas,'' he added.

The senior Foreign Ministry official indicated that more active participation by Japan in U.N. peacekeeping missions may be realized, given Okada's eagerness to do so.

But the official also indicated that the DPJ-led government has much work to do to assure people where Japan is heading, saying, ''It is a time of change. But we don't know yet where the change is heading.''

Military Buildup Fact Sheet

Military Buildup Fact Sheet

LATEST VERSION, COMPLETED 5:36 p.m. 12/23/09
By: Craig Santos Perez

Guam, a possession of the United States, is one of 15 islands in the Marianas, an archipelago in the western Pacific so pristine and rich in biodiversity that it was recently designated a federally protected Marine National Monument. However, military activities are exempt from this so-called “protection” and the Department of Defense has plans to effectively destroy the natural habitats of these islands with the “Guam Military Buildup,”slated to take place over the next five years. Guam, an island only half the size of Cape Cod with a current population of 178,000, will soon become home to 80,000 additional troops, dependents and laborers, as well as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a missile defense system, and numerous sites for military training practices.

Though the people of these islands are being told that the Buildup will improve their quality of life, the facts below, culled from a recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement, show otherwise.

The REAL STORY behind the Guam Military Buildup

The Military Buildup being planned for Guam and the rest of the Mariana Islands chain is being sold to us as a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity. But if you read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) put out by the Department of Defense, it quickly becomes clear that this is far from the truth. And if you know your Pacific history, it is a simple connection of dots to see that the Buildup will likely be as cataclysmic for our people and environment as the atomic testing at Bikini was for the Marshall Islands.

Below are a collection of facts taken from the Draft Environmental Statement released November 20, 2009:


Myth: The military buildup will be great for Guam’s economy.

Fact: The military’s DEIS document states that very little money will go into Guam’s economy. According to the report, most contracts will go to large off-island companies, not to local contractors. Most money spent by the 80,000 newcomers will be spent on base, at companies also based on-island, not at local businesses. The 40,000 low-paid workers imported from the Philippines will not spend their money on Guam, but will send most of it back home.

And don’t think that Guam residents will benefit from an increase in construction jobs. According to the DEIS, at the projected 2014 peak in such jobs, only 2,566 will go to Guam residents, while 15,157 will be taken by off-island workers.

In addition, the military conducted a separate report which revealed that the cost of living will rise, but wages will remain low too low to keep up with skyrocketing costs. Guam Housing Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director, Benny Pinaula, does not feel the buildup will help keep housing affordable.

How will GovGuam fare during the buildup? The costs to the Government of Guam associated with the buildup will be $2.9 Billion dollars. But GovGuam officials are uncertain as to how those projects will be paid for.

Eddie Calvo explained that the buildup will cost millions of dollars to maintain roads, to upgrade wastewater treatment and by taking revenue from the port. Calvo recently wrote that the $50 million appropriated for roads within the 2010 Defense Budget is “a drop in the bucket to what is required to expand the roads and harden bridges to handle the thousands of containers and workers that will be arriving on island.”

Calvo also pointed out that EPA has ordered the local government to spend nearly $300million dollars to develop secondary wastewater treatment facilities. Though the military will ultimately be end-users of the northern facilities, it appears that the local government will bear the brunt of the upfront costs, resulting from EPA’s edict.

According to Calvo, it has been discovered that commercial cargo has been shipping out of the Navy side of the harbor. If this trend is a portend of things to come, this may cost the local government millions of dollars in lost revenue in the years to come.

To sum things up, the military build up will NOT help local Guam businesses, will NOT provide a boon in construction jobs, will NOT be an economic boost for local Guam residents, and will cost Guam’s government millions of dollars. The fact that the DEIS was written by big defense contractors in Hawaii, not Guam, indicates where the money will go, and it is not to you and me.


Myth: The Guam Military Buildup is a “done deal.”

Fact: The Military Buildup is NOT a “done deal,” as the Pacific Daily News would have us believe. There are many variables that need to take place in order for it to happen.

The buildup depends on what Japan decides to do. The U.S. is relying on Japan building an additional base on Okinawa in order for the troops to transfer from there to Guam. They are also depending on Japan to kick in $6 billion to help fund the buildup. However, Japan doesn’t want to build another base and it has been questioning the exorbitant expenses of the buildup, such as $775,000 per housing unit. Japan could make a decision that significantly delays the buildup, or even prevents it entirely.

Especially since the economic downturn, the Pentagon, too, has been uncertain about the expenses of the buildup (see this article from as recently as May 2009: “Pentagon Reconsiders Pricey Guam Move” at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0509/050709cdam1.htm )

The powerful Heritage Foundation, the ultra-conservative, rightwing think tank, has been behind this buildup from the start, and has been steadily lobbying Congress to spend the billions of dollars it will take to make it happen. The Heritage Foundation takes the “Manifest Destiny” view of America, that it must rule the world, rather than share the world. And yet, in December 2009, a Pew Research Center study showed that almost half of Americans think that their country should “mind its own business internationally.” No doubt, these people would be opposed to the idea that $15 billion in their tax dollars is going to the Guam buildup, devoted to the military domination of another hemisphere. If these people were even aware of the buildup, let alone if they knew where Guam was, they would object to their Congressional representatives’ greenlighting the buildup. So far, less than $1 billion has been appropriated for the colossal project. There is no guarantee that the remaining $14 billion plus will come through.

So, it isn’t a “done deal” after all. It is a future that can be shaped by the strategy and foresight of the people, starting at the grassroots.


Myth: There will be no problem supplying water to 80,000 new people on Guam. All we need to do is drill 22 more wells.

Fact: False. Twenty-two new wells will deplete our freshwater source. If there were enough water for that many more people, the DEIS would not have listed a desalination plant as a long-term solution. Desalination plants have adverse effects on the environment; and building one would make the people of Guam dependent on the military for the most basic resource for life – water.

If there were enough water to go around, the military would not consider the development of Tolaeyuus River (“Lost River”) in Santa Rita, either, to augment the water supply during the dry season. This would entail dredging the reservoir area of the existing dam, and installing a pump station and pipeline.

Another scheme listed in the EIS is a comprehensive dredging of Fena Lake to increase capacity. Dredging equals more environmental devastation.

The DEIS makes no guarantee of water for the estimated 260,000-plus people to be on the island. So when you run short of water, as too many of us already do in Agat, Santa Rita, Piti and Asan, just remember the old Navy saying: “The needs of the Navy come first”.


Myth: People living on the base and civilians will live together harmoniously, as “one.”

Fact: The buildup will create three distinct classes: 1) the military, who will be given expensive homes and good salaries; 2) the local people, who will be marginalized as second-class citizens and 3) 40,000 “temporary workers” who will be housed in barracks.

Billions of dollars are slated to be poured into construction inside the fence, while THERE ARE NO PLANS TO SPEND ANY MONEY OUTSIDE THE FENCE, except for road construction (not maintenance). There will be no money to help the current systems deal with infrastructure inadequacies or the expected rise in crime.

The difference between “inside the fence” and “outside the fence” will be more evident within our education system than it already is. There is already a big difference between the quality of education between the DODEA schools and local public schools. The shameful separate-but-equal ethic is alive and well on Guam, and will thrive further if the military buildup is allowed to take place.

Medical care and other social services will share similar problems. While military personnel on-island will receive better funded care, the thousands of additional people will overwhelm Guam’s already stressed medical and social services.

Meanwhile, who will monitor and enforce the labor abuse of the temporary workers, most of whom will be from the Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia? There is already a problem regarding huge human-rights and labor abuse on Guam. Human-rights violations will most likely get worse, without adequate monitoring or enforcement. In addition, the idea that these workers are really “temporary” is a myth. Studies show that the vast majority of workers who migrate to the states from the Philippines, even on temporary visas, stay, and create families. Do not expect a population reduction after the buildup.


The huge surge of young single males, both Marines and laborers, along with the disparity between haves and have-nots, will lead to an increase in crime, fights, alcoholism, rape and prostitution. According to the DEIS, the buildup will also cause an increase in drug smuggling, due to the increased flow of goods and legal and illegal immigrants into Guam. Currently, the drug methamphetamine is already readily available on Guam, due to a steady supply from the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and South Korea.


As pointed out by social worker Dr. Gerhard Schwab, social services cannot keep up with current demands. He says that currently, “children in private and public child welfare organizations experience neglect and abuse… hard-working families do not have the health care and family support they need to care for their elderly and sick family members … our best local social service professionals leave Guam because of poor working conditions and/or lack of support and resources for their work.” And that is the way things are now.

If the buildup is allowed to go forward, troubles will get worse. The workload will double, while no money or resources are being appropriated to deal with these gigantic, foreseeable problem social problems.

Peter Sgro, president of the Guam Healthcare Development Foundation, says 500-600 additional doctors, nurses, technical, management and administration professionals will be needed on Guam, should the buildup take place. Where will they come from? Currently, Guam already falls below the national average in terms of healthcare provider to general population ratio.


Bottom line: More people, less land.

Get ready for a road system that will be a constant traffic jam of construction trucks.

The military is eyeing an additional 3,900 acres to take, including the FAA property, which was supposed to have been given back. The total amount of land they want is one and a half times the size of Barrigada.

Regarding population increase: at first, the DOD told residents that the buildup would increase the population by 40,000, though they were always aware that the figure was really 80,000 — double that! Unfortunately, no one told the people of Guam until the last possible moment – the day the EIS was released (November 20, 2009). Why did they wait so long? Maybe because they knew how upsetting this information would be.

Currently, the cap on H-2B temporary workers allowed to enter the country is only 66,000 for the entire United States. But on tiny Guam, that cap for such workers has been lifted. Instead of protecting the island from a surge of migrants, the government is encouraging a dangerous population spike. Clearly, no consideration was given to living conditions, resources or infrastructure on Guam. All that is considered important to project planners is to get the military facilities up and running – no matter what are the human, social or environmental costs.


According to the Draft EIS, the transplanted Marines will not have an impact on Guam’s overall crime and social order. Instead the report blames migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia as the likely cause. This blatantly racist mindset behind the planning of Guam’s future is deplorable and goes against everything America stands for.

And racism will continue to flourish as the buildup’s planned social stratification takes hold, with predominantly Caucasian military personnel living in the most comfort inside the fence, while Pacific Islanders live outside the fence in lesser conditions, or outright squalor. It is tragically ironic that people native to the region are the ones to be relegated to the worst housing, the worst education system, the worst medical facilities, and the lowest wages. As 80,000 new people are dumped on Guam to fall into their preordained caste in this new “planned community” of Apartheid, the Buildup will exponentially accelerate the denigration of Pacific Islanders in their own land.


Most of the four- and two- lane roads in the north will be widened to six- and seven-land highways.

The greenery in the north will be removed, not just for road work, but to house many of the 80,000 new people. One hundred acres of jungle will be replaced by a camp for tens of thousands of low-wage laborers. More jungle will be razed to make way for the luxury military homes. These homes will be soundproofed to protect those inside from the noise of the new landing pad. Local homes just outside the gate will not have such sound protection.


Aside from the harrowing noise of helicopters coming and going, the racket of weapons firing from the firing range will plague much of the island. A 2000 study from Asahikawa Medical College shows that aircraft-noise exposure resulted in a range of physical and mental consequences including sleep disorders, hearing loss, higher rates of low birth weight infants, fatigue, neurosis, and negative effects on children.


According to the impact study, “There are several recreational resources that the public would lose the access to, and the use of the features if the proposed action were implemented: Guam International Raceway, Marbo Cave, Pagat Trail and associated trails near it, cultural gathering activities (suruhana), and off-shore fishing near Marbo Cave.”

The DEIS spends chapters detailing their plans for creating “recreation space” for their dependents. They go on about how important it is to make sure that there is lots of “wide, open, green space” within their neighborhoods. In the mean time, they are taking away OUR recreation space. They are lessening the wide, open, green space in OUR neighborhoods. And what does the DEIS say to try to make things better? It actually says we should replace our outdoor culture with indoor physical fitness centers, and indoor recreational resources such as bowling, skating rink, youth center, theater and recreational pavilion. Do they really think that bowling is an acceptable substitute for traditional fishing practices? Can they really be that culturally insensitive? And even if people wanted to go bowling instead of fishing, what makes them think local people would be able to afford such diversions, as the cost of living skyrockets against their low wages?


As 80,000 newcomers create waste and stress on our utilities and roads, the local people must cope with the burdened electrical system, continual road maintenance, limited water supply and thousands of tons of additional sewage. As mentioned earlier, funding for the Guam Buildup does not include any financial support for infrastructure outside the fence.


The DEIS states that cultural heritage sites to be destroyed or compromised include locations at Apra Harbor, Anderson AFB, Orote Field, Anderson South, and a sizable portion of land south of Route 15. As described in the report, a parcel of land at Anderson Air Force Base that is rich in archaelogical artifacts will be subject to “100-percent disturbance.” In addition, it warns of increased vandalism at the historical coastal site of Haputo, rich with latte stones.


The limestone forest that stretches from Marbo Caves to Pagat Caves is being considered for use as a firing range, where the military can practice shooting and bombing. The land belongs to several families who have been caring for it for decades, choosing to not develop because they prize the land for its inherent values. Their efforts to keep the land pristine have made it more desirable for the military. The site in Pagat is registered at the Department of Historic Preservation as an archaeological site.


This holy mountain, where thousands of island residents pilgrimage every year on Good Friday, is also being considered for use as a firing range. This is disrespectful of local Chamorro traditions.


Twenty-five acres of reef is slated to be dredged. The sediment churned up by the dredging will kill the coral that is not plowed up and the fish population. According to Manny Duenas, president of the Fisherman’s Co-op, the dredging will “affect Guam in itself because we know the fish don’t just live in one area.”

Destruction to Guam’s undersea life will take place through regularly scheduled underwater detonations as part of war games training.


The dredging at Apra Harbor will destroy the mangrove forest there.


The green sea turtle, the Hawksbill sea turtle and the Spinner dolphin, all protected by federal law, will be wiped out in Apra Harbor.

We are trading endangered species and their ecosystems for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.


The ifit tree is the official tree of Guam, traditionally used as timber, for fuel wood and craftsman art. The termite-resistant hardwood has completely disappeared from some parts of southeast Asia already and is increasingly harder to find on Guam. Construction eyed for Finegayan at Andersen South, and a firing range would decimate the critically-endangered ifit trees, says the DEIS. The construction would also require the removal of dukduk trees, a traditional resource used by canoe builders.


The hundreds of acres of jungle to be destroyed or contaminated contains native plants used in traditional medicine. To destroy these plants is to destroy Guam’s Chamorro heritage.


The total amount of hazardous waste produced by the increased military presence will equal 8 tons per year! (according to the DEIS)

The DEIS refuses to disclose all of the toxic and hazardous materials they will be storing; this is most likely because they are radioactive and banned from the shores of most countries. Our island is still in the process of decontaminating land and removing toxic materials left behind by the military; and many older generations of Guamanians suffer from an abnormally high cancer rate resulting from previous exposure to radiation by the military.


What little reef resources are left may be quickly depleted by the underpaid foreign workers who tend to comb the reefs for food.


The Guam Buildup does not affect only Guam. It will have grave, irreversible consequences for the entire island chain. The military does not see the Mariana Islands as a biodiverse treasure of natural wonders that the U.S. has even designated a protected Marine National Monument (“protected” from everyone except the military). Rather, the military sees our islands as a gigantic shooting gallery, which they’ve aptly re-named the Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC). Guam will be where the soldiers will live; the MIRC will be their enormous playground where they will learn how to destroy life.

The MIRC area will encompass about 501,873 square nautical miles to include open ocean and coastal areas. The combined land area on Guam, Rota, Tinian, Saipan, and Farallon de Medinilla to be used for training areas and facilities will be about 64 nautical miles, and approximately 63,000 nautical miles of airspace will be designated as Special Use Airspace. Already bombing practice occurs routinely on Farallon de Medinilla, an island not long ago prized by locals for its excellent fishing. Now it is off-limits and contaminated, worsening by the day.

Stopping the Guam Buildup will “cut off the head of the snake” that would otherwise kill or severely diminish the celebrated reef and land ecologies of the rest of the archipelago. According to the Population Reference Bureau, only 30% of Guam’s natural habitat remains. But that sad statistic is not shared by the rest of the islands in the chain, still plentiful in biological diversity.

The spectacularly beautiful and ecologically rich island of Tinian would be hardest hit, if we let this happen. Tinian is home to many endemic species, including the Tinian Monarch, an endemic bird. The DEIS explains that the military intends to use two-thirds of the island to routinely conduct many hazardous activities, including live-fire training (which leaves behind depleted uranium and other highly toxic materials), various pyrotechnics and detonations both on land and underwater, and amphibious landings (heavy, lumbering tanks crushing the thriving reef as well as destroying the sea-turtle nesting areas on the beach). No species will be left undamaged. These activities will decimate one of the healthiest and most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, thus also destroying an important food source for its Pacific Island inhabitants.

In addition to the destruction caused by bombs, tanks, planes, ships and nuclear and hazardous wastes, the islands will also suffer from opportunists “cashing in” on the sudden inflow of a large demographic of single males looking for “rest and relaxation.” As on Guam, we can safely predict a rise in prostitution, illegal drugs, and crime. On Rota – pristine and undeveloped; an authentic “tropical paradise” — the construction of two hotel-casinos are in the works, in anticipation of the Guam Buildup becoming a reality.

As you can see from these facts presented in the military’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Guam Buildup is a recipe for nothing short of social and ecological disaster. Please do what you can to stop it.

Here is an interesting observation from blogger Dave Owen (www.guamblog.com):

“The Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) wasn’t written to protect Guam. It was written to protect the U.S. government from criticism once things go wrong on Guam. The U.S. will say that the 11,000 page DEIS is evidence of its great concern and care for Guam. It’s just the opposite. It’s a pile of data and observation dumped on the island far too late, and Guam has been given precious little time – just 90 days – to respond to it. The buildup, as the DEIS illustrates, impacts every aspect of the island; the environment, land use and development, schools, health care, crime, roads — the sum of Guam’s quality of life. With the DEIS in hand, Guam’s government must now prioritize the buildup’s impact and then prepare mitigation strategies. It’s a Manhattan Project-sized task and one that’s impossible to complete in the amount of time available. Guam can rest assured that the U.S. will use the DEIS as its defense when things go wrong: We prepared you, Guam.”

Papuan Tribal Leaders Demand Closure Of US Mine In Indonesia

Papuan Tribal Leaders Demand Closure Of US Mine In Indonesia

Tuesday, 22 December 2009 13:46

Tribal leaders in Indonesia's restive Papua province Tuesday called for the closure of a massive US mine linked to allegations of rights abuses, as they buried a slain rebel leader.

Some 400 people followed the casket of Free Papua Movement (OPM) commander Kelly Kwalik, who was shot in a police raid last week, through the streets of Timika to his grave beside a local church.

Kwalik's death has triggered days of anti-Indonesian protests and calls for independence for the ethnic Melanesian region on the extreme east of the Indonesian archipelago.

Anger has also been directed at US miner Freeport McMoRan, which operates a huge gold and copper mine north of Timika that has long been at the centre of allegations of rights abuses against ordinary Papuans.

Kwalik, who was 60 when he died after spending 30 years fighting for Papuan independence, claimed to have been dispossessed by the mine and was accused of several deadly ambushes against Freeport workers.

Police blame him for a series of attacks this year which killed three people including an Australian mine worker on the road north of Timika. In 2002 he allegedly killed two American Freeport employees in similar circumstances.

Kwalik denied the allegations and some analysts believe the Indonesian security forces launched the attacks as a way of extracting more protection money from Freeport.

"Freeport is responsible for the death of Kelly Kwalik and that is why Freeport must be shut down," Papua Customary Council spokesman Dominicus Serabut told mourners ahead of Kwalik's burial.

"General Kelly Kwalik was not involved in the shootings in the area of Freeport Indonesia," he added.

Poorly-armed OPM guerrillas have waged a war of independence for four decades, often launching hit-and-run attacks against Indonesian troops with traditional bows and arrows and World War II-era rifles.

Kwalik's casket was draped in the outlawed "Morning Star" flag of Papuan independence, a last act of defiance given stiff penalties up to life in prison for anyone waving the separatist standard.

Some 800 people attended a funeral mass on Monday but disagreements among tribal leaders delayed the burial.

Indonesia gained sovereignty over the Papua region in 1969 in a UN- backed vote widely seen as rigged.