Monday, September 28, 2009

Native group meeting

Native group meeting

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 02:12 Variety News Staff

(TNR)—The Taotaomona Native Rights group will meet on Oct. 3, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Plasan Maga' Lahi Hurao in Anigua near Adelup to discuss updates on the “Aboriginal Indigenous Native Fishing Rights” and the strategies for self-determination efforts.

For information, call Trini Torres at 477-0638, or email: trinit@ite.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Guthertz Asks Babauta For Help With Buildup and a Presidential Visit

Guthertz Asks Babauta For Help With Buildup and a Presidential Visit

Guam - Senator Judi Guthertz has presented Assistant Interior Secretary Tony Babauta with a letter making her case for more federal assistance and attention to Guam and to invite President Obama to visit the island.

According to a release, in her hand delivered letter to Babauta, Guthertz called for his "support and aid to encourage President Barack Obama to visit the island and take part in “The Island Conference on Public Administration- The Military Buildup and Beyond: The Guam Perspective”, scheduled for Nov. 19-20, 2009.

In addition, Guthertz stressed to Babauta the need for a firm commitment from the U.S. government in support of the buildup. In her letter delivered this morning, Sen. Guthertz expounded the list of issues, which she shared with the prior Congressional Delegation in August and other federal government officials.

Sen. Guthertz writes: “To date we have had no commitment from the White House, Congress or the Department of Defense to help prepare the civilian community on Guam for the planned buildup,” She added, “It is extremely unfair to expect the people of Guam to shoulder the costs of the buildup in the civilian community without a significant financial commitment from the federal government.”

She also said that the Guam military buildup “must be a “Win-Win” program for both the military and the civilian communities.” She shared her vision with the newly appointed assistant secretary of “One Island, One People, and One Quality of Life for Everyone!”

Written by :
Kevin Kerrigan

Decolonization Registry Bill Goes Up For Public Hearing

Decolonization Registry Bill Goes Up For Public Hearing

Guam- Senator Ben Pangelinan wants to expedite the process of getting more native Chamorros to register under the Guam Decolonization Registry.

Pangelinan welcomed testimony on Bill 184 during a public hearing this morning. The measure seeks to add the list of eligible Chamorro Land Trust lease applicants to the decolonization registry. Former Senator Hope Cristobal and University of Guam instructor Victoria Leon Guerrero were two of the people who testified in favor of the bill. Leon Guerrero says more needs to be done to educate the island community on self determination, before the military buildup occurs.

For example, the UOG instructor spoke on how she invited her students to attend the hearing. "Not a single one of them knew what the Decolonization Registry was" said Leon Guerrero. "I think that is a shame on the part of both our education system and our leadership."

Leon Guerrero says she likes that Senator Pangelinan identified $400,000 to be set aside for an education campaign on decolonization. However, she feels there should be other outlets to spread more awareness. To read up on Bill 184, visit

Written by: Josh Tyquiengco

Japan to revisit base plan, SOFA

Japan to revisit base plan, SOFA

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Friday, September 11, 2009

CHATAN, Okinawa — Bowing to its two minority party partners in the ruling coalition, the Democratic Party of Japan announced late Wednesday that Japan’s new government will re-examine the 2006 bilateral agreement to realign U.S. troops in Japan — specifically plans to build a new helicopter base in northeast Okinawa.

It also will seek a revision of the status of forces agreement between the two countries, party officials said.

Just a little more than a week after it won a decisive victory over the party that ran Japan for more than 50 years, the infant DPJ hit a speed bump in forming a new government.

It took three days of negotiations to reach an agreement with the Social Democratic Party and the People’s New Party on how to approach issues concerning the U.S. military.

The holdup became apparent Monday when the two minority coalition partners announced they wanted the new government to be more aggressive renegotiating changes in the bilateral agreement, particularly building a new air facility on Camp Schwab to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in the island’s urban center.

Details of the coalition agreement were not available Wednesday night.

In its campaign to unseat the Liberal Democratic Party in the recent lower house election, the DPJ downplayed its opposition to relocating the Marine base, instead focusing on domestic issues.

But after it took 308 of the 480 seat lower house, it was faced with demands from the two minor parties, who took another 10 lower house seats and hold the swing votes in Japan ’s upper house. Without their cooperation the DPJ — formed 11 years ago and never in power — faces the possibility of legislation being blocked in the upper house.

U.S. bases on Okinawa cover just under 20 percent of the land area of the main island and a bit less than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan . The two minority parties pushed for a strong statement concerning the Okinawa troop presence. The major issue, SDP party officials said Tuesday, was their party’s strong passivist stance regarding Japan ’s constitution.

The SDP wanted MCAS Futenma closed and replaced somewhere outside Okinawa . They also want to revise portions of the SOFA regarding U.S. servicemembers charged with major crimes.

During a press conference broadcast live following Wednesday’s announcement of the official forming of the coalition, Yukio Hatoyama, the prime minister in waiting, downplayed the difference between the three parties.

"We reconfirmed something what we have in our platform," he said. "I believe, therefore, that there is no problem."

But Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Social Democratic Party, said her party still opposes the Futenma relocation plan.

"While the collation government heads toward re-examining the project, we will squarely discuss the issue within the government," she said.

She is strongly supported by the four Okinawan representatives in the lower house, who are pushing to block the plan to build the new air facility on Camp Schwab .

U.S. officials have stated that the 2006 bilateral agreement is non-negotiable. They say the key to the agreement, which would result in major Marine commands and some 8,000 Marines and their families moving to Guam , is replacing MCAS Futenma.

In an effort to reassure U.S. officials that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty remains strong, Hatoyama spoke to President Barack Obama by phone last week, telling him the alliance remains the "foundation" of Japanese foreign policy.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

Anti-military protest erupts at Okinawa Prefecture Hall

Peace groups, protesters and demonstrators opposed to Futenma Marine Corps Air Station have very vocally taken their case to the Okinawa Prefecture Hall.

Date Posted: 2009-09-24

“Let’s not make new military bases on Okinawa,” shouted many of the peace activists as they shouted, sang, raised their fists and broke out in a chorus of yells and chants. “Others demanded the U.S. “military go home. We support the new political power.” Still others insisted the Prefecture “close Futenma Air Station right now, stop the construction work at Henoko, and at Takae area’s helipad.” The protesters also demanded all environmental assessments be canceled.

“All Okinawan people have to recognize that political power has changed to our side,” says Hiroshi Ashitomi, “and it was made by us, and with our steady mass people’s campaign, military base construction can be stopped.” Ashitomi, leader of a heliport opposition union, says “we will try to stop the process of assessments, and we are going to publish the military’s hiding of facts that should be publicized.” He was referring to how lands were taken by the U.S. military after World War II by force, and how current bases continue to rely on the illegal confiscations of the past.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

FSM President Mori Tells U.N. Micronesian Climate Change Threatens His Nation's Survival

FSM President Mori Tells U.N. Micronesian Climate Change Threatens His Nation's Survival

Pacific News Center
Kevin Kerrigan

Guam - In his address to the United Nations General Assembly Saturday, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Emanuel Mori, emphasized the critical danger Micronesia is facing from climate change.

With sea-levels rising, changing weather patterns and increased storms and disasters, he called for urgent and immediate action by the international community.

"There is simply no more time to waste," he said. "Talk is cheap, action speaks louder. Let's go to Copenhagen to 'seal the deal.'"

In a deeply personal appeal, Mori called climate change "a matter of survival, as a people, culture and as nations" for Micronesians and "our fellow Pacific islanders, including islanders in other parts of the World.

"For centuries, the people of Micronesia have lived on their small islands, many less than a meter above sea level. They have enjoyed a life dependent on the bounties of the sea and the harvest from the land. They have developed a culture of respect for nature and lived in harmony with their natural surroundings. They built outrigger canoes and rigged them with sails from pandanus leaves."

But that same ocean that has nurtured Micronesia for centuries has now become "the very instrument of our destruction," Mori said.

Mori also pointed out to the General Assembly that climate change is undermining Micronesia's development efforts, including its abilities to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Micronesia's overall fragility is compounded by climate change impacts such as increased droughts, excessive rainfall and saltwater intrusion into taro patches and other staple crops, he said. Yet he added that advances in development are being made, including Micronesia's continued work with its fellow Pacific governments on the Micronesia Challenge to conserve the area's biodiversity. Micronesia is also seeking to acquire a fiber-optic cable network that reaches the entire country, as the improved communications will improve its efforts on health, education and private sector development.

In addition to the speech's strong focus on climate change, Mori also stressed his concern over illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the waters of coastal island nations, and he stated support for United Nations Security Council reform in the form of expansion in both permanent and non-permanent membership, with support for permanent seats for Japan, Germany and India.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Buildup's start may be late: Completion of environmental study delayed

Buildup's start may be late: Completion of environmental study delayed

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • September 26, 2009

A draft study of the military buildup's potential environmental impact to the island may be completed by November -- several months later than the date federal officials had previously announced.

While the delay may push back the expected start of military construction projects, they're still scheduled to begin next year, according to federal and local officials. The start of those projects was targeted for early 2010.

The Environmental Impact Statement is a detailed study of the consequences that the projects may have on the environment. It must be approved before any military construction projects can break ground.

The target date for the draft EIS study to be completed is November, Guam Buildup Office Deputy Director Nora Camacho said during a meeting yesterday at the Guam Economic Development Authority.

The draft statement was supposed to be issued in January this year, then it was pushed back to spring, according to Pacific Daily News files. In July, retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, said more time was needed to prepare the study, which consisted of more than 8,000 pages.

Camacho said JGPO officials continue to work with certain local agencies to reconcile inconsistencies found in the voluminous study.

Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., chairman of the legislative committee on economic development, said large construction projects, particularly those that require significant digging, will likely be affected by delays. But the senator, who was at yesterday's GEDA meeting, said he also believes the buildup shouldn't be rushed.

"I don't think (major delays) bode well for local businesses who are ready to start breaking ground within the next couple of months, but the reality is the EIS is critical so the community knows and understands exactly what the impact will be to Guam's environment," Aguon said.

Aguon said he thinks any major delays to large construction projects might affect the military's goal of relocating 8,000 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam from Okinawa by 2014.

Guam Contractors Association President James Martinez said it's no big deal if projects are held back by a few months.

"We're all very anxious and excited to start, but there's also a lot of preparations involved and a little more time to do so might help," he said.

Marine Capt. Neil Ruggiero, JGPO public information officer, reiterated yesterday that they are on track with the environmental impact study and the goal for construction to start is still within fiscal 2010. He wouldn't say whether it would be in the early or later part of the year.

After the final EIS study is approved, a record of decision will be issued, detailing which projects will move forward.

Protect: Government and community must preserve landmarks

Protect: Government and community must preserve landmarks

September 26, 2009

The garbage marring the Old Spanish Bridge in Agat shows that the government and community must do a much better job at preserving and protecting the island's historical places and landmarks.

Historical and cultural sites are an important part of our tourism industry, which is the engine that drives our economy. We need to better ensure that when foreign visitors stop by the places that show Guam's unique history, they aren't greeted by mounds of litter, abandoned appliances and furniture or reeking public restrooms.

But these places aren't just important to tourism. All of us, as a community, benefit from these sites. They showcase our history, remind us of our past and serve as teaching tools for future generations to learn more about Guam. It's critical that we preserve these places for ourselves and our children, and keep them pristine and presentable.

We should all feel outrage when someone vandalizes or litters historical locations and landmarks. Would Parisians ignore junked appliances at the Eiffel Tower? Would New Yorkers tolerate abandoned couches and other household junk at the foot of the Statue of Liberty?

Our government has a duty and responsibility to care for the island's monuments and landmarks, to remove garbage and debris from historical sites as soon as possible, and to keep them clean.

But the Guam community also must do its part. That means cleaning up after ourselves after visiting these sites. It means not allowing others to casually trash our island, including reporting those who would so callously denigrate our landmarks.

If you want to take a more proactive role, check with your village mayor to see what you can do to help. Lend your labor to repaint buildings, rake up leaves or pick up trash. Donate painting materials, garbage bags, or even drinks for those doing the work.

The more responsibility we take, the cleaner and more beautiful our island becomes -- for our visitors, and ourselves and our children.

Population Growth Creates Housing Problems

Population growth creates housing issues
Friday, 25 September 2009 00:57 by Jude Lizama
Marianas Variety News Staff .

THE island’s civilian population is projected to increase by approximately 50,000 people by 2025, requiring approximately 10,800 new housing units mostly in the northern and central part of the island which is expected to absorb about 80 percent of the growth, according to the draft Northern and Central Guam Land Use Plan.
The report prepared by ICF International and released by the Bureau of Statistics and Plans cited studies indicating that over the past 20 years, the island’s population has steadily increased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, and has historically been closely tied in with local United States military installations.

While housing availability has been relatively level with population growth, the island community has experienced increasing strain due to the lack of affordability.

Local rates of home ownership, which stands at 48 percent, are well below the U.S. national average of 66 percent.

However, efforts to find solutions to satisfy the increasing housing availability needs of the local community have been at the forefront for some time.

Three main housing issue goals proposed by the land use plan cited the need to designate sufficient land area for provide various housing types and prices, increase home ownership, and encourage a variety of housing choices in the northern and central portions of the island.

Based on the three main goals cited in the plan, a plethora of additional policies were cited in order to achieve the mentioned goals including the establishment of various land use categories; implementing zoning categories to provide proper single and multi-family development densities; administering land use plans to ensure land availability; providing opportunities, education, and counseling for first time homebuyers; and implementing affordable housing measures to increase affordable permanent housing availability.

The land use plan also suggested taking advantage of the construction worker “influx” related to the ongoing military buildup by encouraging temporary worker housing to be eventually converted to permanent housing developments.

Incentives for larger residential developments such as “density increases” or “flexibility in development standards” were also suggested in the housing study. Additionally, an increase in housing availability opportunities for both persons with disabilities, and “supportive and transitional housing for homeless individuals and families” also made the long list of projected policy goals.

Tanya "Teeh" Manibusan - Don't Let Up

Tanya Manibusan is from Guahan(Guam). She was discovered on Youtube when friends uploaded videos of her singing in class during high school. She has signed with a label and has released an album through her myspace page. This was recorded during the 2009 Liberation Day Parade.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Residents say they should be consulted in military buildup

Residents say they should be consulted in military buildup

Friday, 25 September 2009 00:00
By Richelle Ann P. Agpoon - For Variety

COMMUNITY members have advised visiting U.S. Navy archaeologists to consult with indigenous groups regarding the impact of the military buildup on the CNMI.

Navy archaeologists Valerie Curtis, front, and Eric West, fourth from left, pose with officials of the U.S Navy, the Historic Preservation Office, the Air Force and Saipan community members after the public meeting held at the Coastal Resources Management Office in San Jose on Wednesday.

“The indigenous groups are the ones utilizing the resources and you need to consider their side,” Saipan resident James Arriola said during the public meeting on Wednesday.

Traditional healers, for example, utilize the plants that may be affected by the buildup, he added.

According to archaeologist Valerie Curtis they would take into consideration the need to preserve traditional herbs and plants.

In a separate meeting on Tinian, Tuesday, residents suggested calling the military buildup area its traditional name, “old village.”

A recommendation was also made to document the history of the place where ancient remains can still be found.

Curtis said they want to preserve the area’s “essence of history.”

She said they will write about the history of the area and copies will be given to the Historic Preservation Office and the Public School System.

The Tinian people were also concerned about having access to the area even during the buildup, she added.

The people were particularly concerned about the Tinian pepper which grows in the area.

All the comments of the local people about historical and environmental impacts of the buildup will be considered by the military, Navy archaeologist Eric West said.

“The reason why we are doing the meeting is to hear the public’s opinion so we can make the appropriate mitigation,” West said.

Those who were not able to attend these meetings swill have another opportunity to raise their concerns in January.

For more information and comments, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Sablan Introduces Bill To Delay Start of Federal Immigration Control in CNMI Until December 1, 2010

Sablan Introduces Bill To Delay Start of Federal Immigration Control in CNMI Until December 1, 2010

Guam - U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan has introduced legislation that delays the start of federal immigration control in the Northern Mariana Islands until December 1, 2010.

“I have made the decision to seek this delay only after much deliberation,” said Sablan. “I firmly believe that federal control of the borders will reduce the scams and abuses that have been a hallmark of local immigration control.

“And I believe that just as political union with the United States was a wise decision and one that benefits the Northern Mariana Islands every single day, so too will it benefit us to be part of the U.S. immigration system.

“But the simple truth is that the Department of Homeland Security, which has had almost a year and a half to prepare, is not ready to implement U.S. Public Law 110-229 on November 28.

“I know that for many people in Washington and in the Commonwealth, who have been pushing for U.S. control of immigration, my bill will seem like backsliding. And I certainly would have preferred not to have to take this action. But I also have to acknowledge the reality of the situation.

“Homeland Security has not finalized arrangements for space at the ports of entry that it must control. No construction of facilities at the ports has begun. None of the sophisticated communications and data entry equipment and supporting infrastructure needed have been installed. Not a single Customs and Border Patrol employee is in place in the Marianas to manage the start-up, which is scheduled to occur in just 65 days.

“Even the Department of Homeland Security itself has now admitted in written reply to Congress that the Department will not be fully operational in the Marianas until 2011.

“That’s not good enough. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands – and the people of all the United States – deserve and expect all U.S. borders to be fully operational all the time.”

Sablan’s bill does not just delay the start of federal control for a year. The bill also responds to agency foot-dragging by requiring reports to Congress every 30 days on actions being taken to be fully prepared to man the borders on December 1, 2010.

“I want to make clear that my bill is not delay for the sake of delay. And I certainly don’t want to find us back in this same predicament a year from now with an impending start up date and an agency that isn’t prepared.

“My bill requires DHS to provide Congress with detailed budgets for the next two years to show how the transition will be paid for. The Department will be required to explain what equipment, software, and personnel needs it has and how it plans to get that infrastructure in place.”

The measure also addresses the issue of the visa waiver program that currently allows Russians and Chinese tourists to easily enter the Commonwealth.

“Although the CNMI visa waiver program would continue as is for another year under my bill, I also want Homeland Security to report to Congress on what will happen after the new start date of December 2010. If there are additional security measures needed to allow Russians and Chinese to enter, what are those measures? DHS has never told us. And, if Russian and Chinese are still excluded from a visa waiver program after December 2010, then I want DHS to explain how these countries can be included at a later date.

“I also want DHS to explain why the system we have now, which requires a bond from tourist agencies sending Russians and Chinese here and which has operated almost completely trouble free, can’t be the system that DHS uses to handle these tourists.”

Receiver May Take DMHSA

Receiver may take DMHSA: Parties file motion with federal court
By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • September 19, 2009

A motion filed last night on behalf of three people with disabilities asks the District Court of Guam to remove local government authority over providing federally required services to people with disabilities and that the court appoint a receiver to take over.

The motion for the appointment of a federal receiver who will have powers over the Guam Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse follows years of the local government's failure to improve services to people with mental health and developmental disabilities, according to court papers filed yesterday.

The local government, according to the court filing, has shown a "cycle of failure" to live up to a 7-year-old federal court order to improve mental health services on the island.

"Plaintiffs confess that they bought into this charade more than once; the soothing promises of 'we're all good people who want the same thing for the consumers' had a siren sound which time and again convinced plaintiffs that the defendants really did mean what they said, and that defendants would finally take decisive action to comply with the (Amended Permanent Injuction),'" according to the motion for appointment of a receiver.

"Plaintiffs can no longer indulge this fantasy. What has long been abundantly clear, and what can no longer be ignored, is that defendants lack the leadership or the will to bring themselves into compliance with the API. Further negotiations, further extensions and further accommodations of Defendants' failure to obey the API will be fruitless exercises which will fail to break the pattern of non-compliance. Not even the filing of yet another motion to have the defendants held in contempt is likely to bring about the changes so urgently needed," according to the court filing.
If District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall grants the Justice Department's motion, the mental health agency would be the second government of Guam department to be placed under federal receivership.

District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood in March last year took trash management away from the local government and placed it in under the authority of a court-appointed receiver, after GovGuam continuously failed to meet court-ordered deadlines.

The mental health agency and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities have been under a permanent injunction since 2004 to improve services and facilities for people with mental and developmental disabilities. The order follows a 2001 lawsuit filed against the government of Guam for failure to provide adequate mental health services.

After a status conference in July, Marshall ruled GovGuam in contempt for failing to meet certain deadlines and requirements in improving mental health services. She also raised the possibility of placing the mental health agency in receivership.
In a report filed yesterday to supplement their August status report, the court monitors listed several examples of continuing failures and lack of planning by Mental Health.

Several contracts with organizations that manage and operate the agency's residential group homes are still issued on an emergency month-to-month basis because Mental Health has failed to issue new requests for proposals for those services.

This arrangement has led to delayed payments to the service providers, and prevents mental health from being able to choose the best bidder, the report stated.
The report cites a comment from a Bureau of Budget and Management Research analyst that of all the GovGuam line agencies, "financial planning at DMHSA was undoubtedly the worst."

Mental health has prior obligations dating back to 1999 and totaling more than $2.3 million. The agency is also facing a shortfall of about $1.4 million for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. And $700,000 of that shortfall represents payroll, the report stated.

Some of Mental Health's debts have prompted some vendors to stop providing services to the agency.

The Guam Memorial Hospital, which is owed more than $1.1 million for supplies and meals, will no longer provide hot meals to patients within Mental Health's Adult Inpatient Unit. "Consumers are relegated to eating sandwiches ad nauseam," the monitors said.

Some of the island's pharmacies have refused to provide services to the department because of a history of late payments, according to the report.

The federal court-appointed two monitors, attorney James Casey and clinical psychologist James Kiffer, are required to submit monthly reports on GovGuam's status effort -- or lack of it -- to improve its mental health services.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama backs war claims

Obama backs war claims

Thursday, 24 September 2009 01:25
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

SURVIVORS of the Japanese occupation during World War II and their dependents are one step closer to the passage of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, with the Obama administration endorsing the inclusion of war reparations in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said yesterday.

Rhea Suh, assistant secretary for the Department of Interior’s policy, management and budget, sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, Congressmen Ike Skelton and John McHugh expressing the Obama administration’s support for Guam war claims.

“The endorsement of Guam war claims by the Obama administration in the final defense bill is a major development as we head to conference,” said Bordallo. “I believe that the administration’s position will be an important factor in the conference committee’s deliberations. I thank Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta who was instrumental in gaining the Administration’s support.”

Babauta will address the Guam Legislature at 10:45 a.m. when Speaker Judi Won Pat convenes session today.

Only the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.

As the congressional conference committee begins its deliberations to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the defense budget bill, Bordallo emphasized, “We are at a critical juncture and we are within reach. The next two or three weeks may well decide the success or failure of this effort.”

H.R. 44 would require the Secretary of the Treasury to make direct payments to residents of Guam who suffered injury at the hands of the Japanese in World War II.

In addition, the bill would also authorize $5 million to establish a new program to make grants available for projects to memorialize the occupation of Guam by the Japanese.

Awards to victims range from $7,000 to $25,000 for victims and survivors, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained during the war.

CNMI federalization transition plan issued

CNMI federalization transition plan issued

Administration urges DHS to waive travel restrictions

By Haidee V. Eugenio
Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Fitial administration has issued a 46-page CNMI protocol addressing key concerns related to the transition to federal immigration on Nov. 28, including the loss of government jobs, foreign labor, and adjudication of labor cases.

Titled “The Commonwealth's Protocol for Implementation of Public Law 110-229,” the document prepares the CNMI for federalization which will immediately affect displaced government employees and foreigners who currently hold CNMI-granted status.

Press secretary Charles Reyes, when asked for comment yesterday, said the governor has “approved such a plan to address important transition issues.”

By Nov. 28, for example, CNMI immigration employees will be out of job given that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection has not hired a single U.S. citizen from the CNMI in the 18 months since the federalization law was signed.

Attorney General Ed Buckingham and Howard P. Willens, special counsel to the governor, with instructions from Fitial, undertook the preparation for the protocol.

“The current version of the protocol is intended to collect our policies for reference by all concerned in both the public and private sectors in the Commonwealth and by the responsible federal agencies,” said Willens in a Sept. 15 memorandum for Fitial.

The protocol aims to implement the transition smoothly with as little disruption and uncertainty as possible, keep families together and treat affected persons fairly, and minimize adverse consequences to the recovery of the CNMI economy.

It said the provisions of P.L. 110-229 are imprecise as to the way that the U.S. authorities are to interact with the CNMI authorities and DHS has not yet shared its views on most of the issues discussed in the protocol.

The protocol listed at least 28 CNMI laws about which pre-emption questions could be raised, and these include the organization of the Executive Branch, the Commonwealth Entry and Deportation Act, the Nonresident Worker's Act, the Commonwealth Employment Act of 2007, Excise tax and user fees, and the Commonwealth Minimum Wage and Hour Act.

Outsourcing of services

The Fitial administration has been preparing for discussion with CBP in Washington, D.C. on a proposal to outsource certain port of entry jobs to a private CNMI contractor.

The private contractor would employ current CNMI Division of Immigration employees and provide these employees to supplement CBP personnel assigned to the Commonwealth.

“The contractor personnel would work under the supervision of CBP onsite supervisors,” the protocol said.

Under P.L. 110-229, DHS will control and operate six ports of entry in the CNMI.

In the short term following the Nov. 28 transition, the CNMI intended to use the current Department of Labor workforce in dealing with the problems of employing U.S. citizens to the maximum extent possible.

Travel restrictions

The protocol also urges DHS to waive travel restrictions for foreign workers, foreign investors, and foreign students.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have announced that nonresidents will be prevented from returning to the CNMI if they lave the islands for medical, family, businesses or other reasons.

“That is unnecessary, highly damaging to the Commonwealth and its citizens, and unacceptable from the Commonwealth's point of view. DHS has authority to waive these restrictions and should do so,” the protocol said.

It added that anyone who holds a CNMI-issued permit or a federally-issued CNMI-only permit is not a threat to U.S. national security and should be allowed to continue employment if they leave the CNMI and return during the term of the permit.

The proposed E-2 CNMI investor status rule, published last week, provides the same travel restrictions to foreign investors.

Under the proposed regulations, the foreign investor must apply for a visa at a consulate or embassy in his home country and obtain a U.S. visa issued by the Department of State to be able to re-enter the CNMI.

PL 110-229 provides specifically that lawful permits issued to persons who wish to remain in the CNMI after Nov. 28, 2009 will be respected for the duration of the permit but not to exceed two years.


Local government agencies will continue to issue permits and extension until Nov. 27, 2009 for CNMI immigration categories, from 240A to 240Y, and other categories made necessary by the transition to federal immigration law.

For example, the Department of Commerce and the Division of Immigration will continue to issue regular-term business entry permits and extensions in the normal course until Nov. 27, 2009.

CNMI Immigration will issue two-year permits as of Nov. 27, 2009 to every alien who is a government employee and for whom the Office of Personnel Management certified a need for a two-year permit.

The local Immigration will also continue to issue visitor entry permits and extension in the normal course until Nov. 27, 2009.

The government intends to issue public notices and awareness campaign to disseminate information contained in the protocol.

Lynn Knight, a former chair of the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands (HANMI), said the CNMI's protocol document is a “phenomenal undertaking on this incredibly complex issue.”

“Unfortunately, so many gray areas remain even at this late date. This is a pro-active effort to establish what should happen next on the working relationships and necessary details of the immigration takeover. I want to congratulate all those who contributed to the document and I certainly hope the federal officials who will have some role in this going forward will take the protocol very seriously,” said Knight, who used to be a communications liaison on immigration issues. She now lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Fitial administration first reported the creation of a public-private task force to ensure operational concerns are addressed related to the federalization transition, right after Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan changed his position by now supporting a delay in federalization.

Sablan said DHS is not ready to implement the law by Nov. 28, but DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the department is prepared to control CNMI borders by the date set by law.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Anti-Bases Coalition Mulled

Anti-bases coalition mulled
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 00:00
By Zita Taitano
Marianas Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — The 7th Meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism has concluded with a plan to form a regional coalition that will actively oppose the “militarization” of Micronesia.

Therese Terlaje, one of the resource speakers at the conference which ended Friday, said participants will gather all information and draft a solidarity statement explaining their position that the presence of the military is not conducive to the region.

Terlaje said the soon-to-be-formed coalition, which will be spearheaded by women activists from the Philippines, will include members from Guam, the CNMI, Palau, Japan, and Australia.

During Friday’s session, panelists and participants expressed concern about the Department of Navy’s memo that bans sex offenders from living within the military bases.

Terlaje said the issue was first brought up during a public education forum in 2008 by military planners. “They said we will no allow sexual offenders on the base even if they come from the military (or) as military dependents,” she said.

“They are not allowed to live on the base and that is how they pretty much left the problem and that means we have to figure out that if they’re outside the base obviously, that’s our problem. That’s all we know so far,” Terlaje said.

Also discussed last Friday was “human trafficking and prostitution.”

Annie Fukushima of the University of California at Berkeley told the stories of women promised a better life only to be tricked into becoming sex slaves.

Among them was a woman who claimed that a man she met told her she could come to the U.S. where she would be able to find work. The woman would end up in Hawaii and then a few months later on the U.S. mainland as a sex slave.

Sue Gilbey of Adelaide Australia touched on legal brothels in Australia, where sex workers are even unionized. Despite the legality of the flesh business, yet there have been reports of illegal human trafficking in Australia.

“One thing about these though is it provides a front like trafficking and it’s making it more difficult to identify [victims],” Gilbey said, noting that the organized crime is prevalent in South East Asia, eastern Europe Korea and India.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blas: Guam must have louder voice in Congress

Blas: Guam must have louder voice in Congress

Tuesday, 22 September 2009 04:48
by Zita Y. Taitano| Variety News Staff

SENATOR Frank Blas Jr. yesterday gave members of the Rotary Club of Northern Guam an update on his efforts to seek federal attention to local issues including his call for Congress to grant Guam voting rights on issues dealing with the military buildup.

“We took it a step further by introducing Resolution 30-160 that formally requests Congress to also look into providing Guam, our representative in Washington D.C., the opportunity to vote and fully participate in matters that affect Guam and the military buildup on Guam. That’s what we were asking for. Just on those matters,” Blas said.

Blas said his proposed resolution was prompted by Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s amendments to the 2010 defense budget bill which seeks to increase local wages for military buildup-related jobs to prevailing rates in his home state of Hawaii.

Blas found it disturbing that Guam didn’t have a say in this as well as other decisions that are being discussed in Washington D.C. that affect the island directly.

It prompted him to write letter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi provide Guam’s delegate the opportunity to participate more in discussions concerning the island.

Blas also discussed the $400 million Compact Impact reimbursement that he has been demanding from the federal government.

“This is a cost that is associated for providing health care, education, public safety and social services programs to these individuals,” Blas said adding that Guam is set to receive about $16 million next year in compact impact funds. The senator further noted that this figure is short of the $30 million impact costs to GovGuam.

Blas cited a comparable situation in Hawaii and the Aloha state’s attempt to reduce and restrict the amount of healthcare services for migrants from the Micronesian region. The case is currently in federal court and is scheduled for a hearing next month.

NEWS UPDATE:Guam residents urged to support crucial push for war claims

NEWS UPDATE:Guam residents urged to support crucial push for war claims

Pacific Daily News • September 22, 2009

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo urged Guam residents today to rally support for passage of the war claims legislation, which Congress will consider over the next two to three weeks as part of the defense spending bill.

War reparations for Guam are included in the House version of the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2010.

But the Senate version does not contain language for Guam residents to be compensated for their suffering under the Japanese occupation during World War II.

Within the next two to three weeks, conference committee members of the House and Senate will meet to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the defense spending bill, according to Bordallo's office.

The war claims legislation, H.R. 44, received bi-partisan support as a stand-alone legislation at the beginning of the 111th Congress, with the House of Representatives voting to pass the bill by over a two-thirds majority, in a recorded vote of 299 to 99.

Before the August recess, Senate Democrats cleared the bill for full consideration on the Senate floor, but Senate Republicans have not acted on the majority’s request to bring the bill to the floor.

In order to build support for inclusion of H.R. 44 in the defense bill, Congresswoman Bordallo has called for a united front among Guam’s leaders and our community.

Gov. Felix Camacho, Speaker Judith Won Pat, Minority Leader Eddie Calvo and Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. have all been involved in a letter writing effort to Senate leaders.

Former Congressman Ben Blaz has been helping to reach out to his friends in the Senate, especially among GOP Senators.

“I urge our community to support the inclusion of H.R. 44, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, in the final Defense Authorization bill,” Bordallo wrote.

NEWS UPDATE:Homeland Security phasing in U.S. immigration in CNMI Nov. 28

NEWS UPDATE:Homeland Security phasing in U.S. immigration in CNMI Nov. 28

Pacific Daily News • September 22, 2009

The Northern Marianas will no longer be able to ask for further delay in the implementation of U.S. immigration law in the commonwealth.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is prepared to implement the border security components of P.L. 110-229 in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands by Nov. 28.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, and CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan today met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss the implementation of the law that removes local authority over immigration in the CNMI.

Bordallo and Sablan met with Napolitano to continue to press for allowing mainland Chinese and Russian tourists a visa waiver to enter the commonwealth and Guam.

Napolitano assured Bordallo that she understood the economic impact that the exclusion of China and Russia from the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program would have on the CNMI, which relies heavily on visitors from these markets, according to a press release from Bordallo's office.

Additionally, Napolitano stated, according to Bordallo's press release, "that Homeland Security is working in an expedited manner on a pathway forward, in advance of the Nov. 28 implementation date, to address the Guam-CNMI visitor industry issues."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DMHSA Responds to Possible Federal Receivership

DMHSA defends actions: Officials respond to motion for receivership
By Agnes E. Donato
Pacific Sunday News
September 20, 2009

Facing possible takeover by a federal receiver, local government officials yesterday defended their handling of mental health services on Guam.

The government of Guam, the officials said, has made strides in improving services to people with mental health and developmental disabilities over the past eight months,and said the government can do more, if given just a little more time.

A motion filed Friday night on behalf of three people with disabilities asks the District Court of Guam to appoint a receiver to run federally required services to people with mental health and developmental disabilities.

The motion follows years of the local government's failure to improve services to people with mental health and developmental disabilities, according to court papers filed Friday.

The local government, according to the court filing, has shown a "cycle of failure" to live up to a 7-year-old federal court order to improve mental health services on the island.

But David Shimizu, a former senator and now director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said he hopes the court will also recognize the agency's "cycle of improvement" since he took the helm in January.
He said the recent hiring of psychiatrists and psychologists has enhanced the care provided by Mental Health to patients.

Sen. Frank Aguon, chairman of the legislative committee that oversees health programs, also pointed to the "significant progress" made at Mental Health since the beginning of the year.

He said the agency recently added certified nurses to its staff and opened an in-house unit dedicated to providing mental health services for children.
The Legislature, he said, has shown its support for more improvements at Mental Health when it passed the fiscal 2010 budget, which grants the agency $5 million more that it previously got. The additional funding will become available to Mental Health on Oct. 1.

"I hope the judge will hold off on any drastic decision and recognize what Mental Health and the Legislature have done to get us out of the injunction," said Aguon.
If District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall grants the Justice Department's motion, the mental health agency would be the second government of Guam department to be placed under federal receivership.

District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood in March last year took trash management away from the local government and placed it in under the authority of a court-appointed receiver, after GovGuam continuously failed to meet court-ordered deadlines.

The mental health agency and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities have been under a permanent injunction since 2004 to improve services and facilities for people with mental and developmental disabilities. The order follows a 2001 lawsuit filed against the government of Guam for failure to provide adequate mental health services.

Guam Designated Strategic Seaport

Guam designated strategic seaport
By Agnes E. Donato
Pacific Sunday News
September 20, 2009

As a result, the Department of Defense will include the use of the island's port facilities in its planning for cargo movement during times of military deployments.
While the designation doesn't guarantee federal funding for port projects, it does underscore the need for funding for infrastructure improvement, according to Gen. Duncan McNabb, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command.

"A modernized port will provide additional deployment options for our forces forward and greater flexibility to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the Pacific theater," McNabb wrote in a Sept. 17 memorandum to key military officials. McNabb also asked the Department of Transportation consider Guam's expanding military role as it weighs grants and economic stimulus funding for critical transportation projects.

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command made the decision two weeks after McNabb toured the Port of Guam, a news release from the office of Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said yesterday. "Our community will benefit from the strategic port designation," Bordallo said in the release. "The military buildup will increase the volume of traffic at the port and resources will be needed to help the port meet future demand.... This designation will help the port to receive federal funding to modernize port infrastructure and cargo handling."

Monte Mesa, chairman of the port's board of directors, called the designation "a very good validation of our port master plan."

"It highlights the critical need for our port to be developed to a modern, world-class standards," said Mesa.

Gov. Felix Camacho also welcomed the military's decision.

"The recognition of our island's only port as a strategic designation brings great economic opportunities and benefits for Guam," Camacho said in a release. "This acknowledgment will help strengthen the administration, and port management's efforts when applying for funding that will modernize and expand the port in order to prepare it for the military buildup."

About 8,000 Marines, plus about 9,000 of their dependents, are expected to transfer to Guam from Okinawa, Japan, by 2014.

US Troops in the Philippines

Shooting by American troops lawful-military
By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 20, 2009

THE PHILIPPINE military maintained Saturday that American soldiers acted within the bounds of the law when they fired their machine guns in self-defense following an explosion believed targeted at them at the Jolo pier in Sulu on Monday.

The avowal was in reaction to the claim by the leftist group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), which said that United States forces, stationed in Mindanao as part of anti-terror operations jointly undertaken with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), were cleared of any liability too quickly while questions on their continued presence here had yet to be settled.

“It is part of their right to defend themselves. They are targets for liquidation or harm by terrorists. It’s normal that they also take precautionary measures to defend themselves,” said Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., military spokesman.

He said the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which sets the parameters covering the conduct of soldiers while engaged in training exercises and intelligence or technical assistance in the country, did not bar American troops from carrying firearms.

“They are allowed to carry guns. The VFA only says they cannot engage in combat, but they have the right to defend themselves,” said Brawner, adding that a Philippine investigation found nothing unlawful about the discharge of firearms from US guns.

“We also expect that it is a natural tendency for soldiers when under attack … that the immediate reaction is to seek cover, determine the source of attack and fire back,” Brawner told the Philippine Daily Inquirer when reached by phone Saturday.

Bayan, which had long called for the abrogation of the VFA, expressed concern over the VFA Commission’s speedy resolution of the incident wherein it concluded that the discharge was “a justified response” to a threat.

While US military officials said that their troops fired just a single burst, civilian witnesses said arms were let loose for about 20 minutes and described the US soldiers’ response as an “overreaction.” The fusillade damaged a mosque.

“The presidential VFA Commission seems to be working on damage control. It is amazing that in a matter of 24 hours, they have cleared the US forces from any liability, despite numerous eyewitness accounts,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

“The impression we’re getting is that a coverup is in the works,” he said.

But Brawner said that the investigation went through a process and that local officials took part in it.

Denying an unfair investigation was conducted, Brawner said: “In the first place, in order for a liability to be established, there should be a complaint. But there was no complainant.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Former Lt. Governor of the CNM in Arizona Prison

Tim Villagomez now in Arizona federal prison
By Ferdie de la Torre
The Saipan Tribune
September 19, 2009

Former lieutenant governor Timothy P. Villagomez is now at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona, to serve his seven-year-and-three-month sentence for his role in the Rydlyme corruption scandal.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Villagomez's actual or projected release date is on Dec. 17, 2015.

The Phoenix prison is a medium-security facility for male offenders. An adjacent satellite prison camp houses a minimum security facility for female offenders.

The Bureau of Prisons said the Federal Correctional Institution is about 25 miles north of downtown Phoenix, off Interstate 17 (Black Canyon Freeway) at the Pioneer Road Exit (Exit 225).

Villagomez's co-defendant, James A. Santos, is now at the United States Penitentiary-Victorville in Alelanto, California, where he is serving six years and six months in prison for his involvement in the scheme to defraud the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and the United States.

USP-Victorville is a high security facility housing male inmates. It is part of the Victorville Federal Correctional Complex. USP-Victorville is 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles on Interstate 15.

The Bureau of Prisons said Santos' actual or projected release date is on April 21, 2015.

James Santos' wife and co-defendant, Joaquina A. Santos, is listed as still in transit. She was also sentenced to six years and six months in prison for her role in the scheme.

Villagomez and the Santos couple were flown out from Saipan on Aug. 24 to begin serving their sentences in federal prison.

The three appealed their convictions and sentences to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It remains pending.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Japan FM wants talks on U.S. military base

Published: Sept. 18, 2009

TOKYO, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Japan says it wants to discuss revising a deal on relocating a U.S. Marine air station within Okinawa, but Washington opposes renegotiating the deal.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Katsuya Okada, the foreign minister in the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition, said there must be "serious discussions" on revising the relocation to reduce the burden on local residents.

The decision to transfer the air station, now located in a residential area of Ginowan, to the shores of Camp Schwab in Nago, also in the Okinawa Prefecture, was reached under a 2006 agreement.

Despite concerns that insistence on renegotiating the deal could cause friction between Japan and its closest ally, the United States, Okada said the issue is a top diplomatic priority.

"It is necessary for Japan and the Unites States to engage in discussions on this (air station) issue, making sure that there is a very high priority placed on it," he said, while noting the importance of the bilateral alliance.

The DPJ -- which won a landslide victory in last month's elections to Japan's lower house of parliament, ending the five-decade rule of the Liberal Democratic Party -- had campaigned on charting a more independent foreign policy.

Last month, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly had been quoted as saying the plan, to be completed in about six years, cannot be renegotiated. The plan also calls for moving 8,000 of the 15,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The Times reported that deal faces strong opposition in Okinawa because of environmental and social concerns about the new base.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pacific passport idea a focus at Auckland Polynesian meeting

Posted at 08:18 on 09 September, 2009 UTC

Creating passports for Pacific people travelling within the region is one of the aims of a group of Pacific leaders meeting in Auckland to discuss a single Government for the Polynesian Triangle.

This is a primary goal of the about 60 chiefs, or Ariki, and other leaders from Tahiti, Hawaii, Rarotonga, Tonga and Fiji who are meeting with their New Zealand counterparts.

The gathering at Whaiora Marae in Auckland is looking at how to unite Pacific people in a single indigenous Polynesian government.

A spokesperson at the event, Matt Seymor says current governance, like the issuing of passports, has taken away the natural cultural ties of Pacific people in the region.

“Settler’s law and colonialism have taken away their whakapapa. As like in New Zealand their right to come down on to Maui’s fish. As you have Samoans and Tongans who have to go through passport clearance to enter into New Zealand.”

Matt Seymor.

Masses in New Caledonia strike against French colonizers

By G. Dunkel
Published Sep 10, 2009 11:23 PM

Since the beginning of August, the struggle of oppressed workers and youth in New Caledonia has brought tensions to heights not seen since this South Pacific island had an armed rebellion against France in the late 1980s.

Marches and street sit-ins have brought protesters into direct conflict with the police. At least two cops have been shot, and RFI reported Aug. 6 that 30 had been wounded. The left-wing union leading the struggle is the USTKE, the Union of Kanak Workers and the Exploited (Union syndicale des travailleurs kanaks et des exploités).

Kanak is the official name of the Indigenous people of the island.

New Caledonia is in reality a colony of France, with some special privileges due to a sharp struggle in the 1980s. Its economy, based on the production of nickel, has done very well recently. Growth was 5 percent a year between 2004 and 2008, and Nouméa, its capital, has set a French record for the most luxury cars per person.

The economic stakes for France in New Caledonia are high. It is the world’s fifth largest producer of nickel, a vital ingredient for stainless steel, and has the world’s second largest reserves. Wages in the nickel industry are high. This is why 800 to 1,200 Europeans—mainly from France—move to the island each month.

The Kanaks, especially the youth, leave school early and live on what the French call “small jobs,” or temporary work at low wages, and on what they can grow in their gardens. They are shoved into ghettoes with tiny houses or buildings that need renovation, far from the better neighborhoods, and lack the education and skills needed for better-paying, full-time jobs.

USTKE has community organizers who travel around to these neighborhoods, especially to help families of those arrested in the protests. (Le Monde, Aug. 23) USTKE rejects charges that it has manipulated the youth into protest and points to “colonial police repression” as the cause of the violence New Caledonia has suffered during August.

The spark for the current conflict was the firing of an airline worker, a member of USTKE, for “incompetence.” The union vigorously defended him with marches, protests and runway blockades.

In the course of the struggle, Gérard Jodar, the leader of USTKE, and some of his comrades invaded Nouméa’s airport runway and took refuge in planes where they were attacked by the cops. His swift sentence of a year in prison took into account what the court called his “previous acts of vandalism and blockades.” (Le Figaro, Aug. 25)

Jodar’s sentence was recently confirmed, but he and a number of comrades have an appeal hearing scheduled on Sept. 15. The USTKE called a demonstration Aug. 22 to not only demand their leader’s freedom but also to protest the high cost of living and the “colonialism” the French state is exhibiting in Nouméa.

A demonstration was held in Paris on Aug. 24 where the French left expressed solidarity with USTKE. Corrine Perron, a representative of USTKE in France, told the protest, “We gather together to denounce the colonial justice in Nouméa and the unjustifiable condemnation of union militants in New Caledonia. It is necessary to alert the public that New Caledonia not only faces the threat of swine flu but also the threat of police and judicial repression.” (Libération, Aug. 24)

Activists explore post-military economy

Activists explore post-military economy

Friday, 18 September 2009 03:18 MVG Reporter

PEOPLE will have to work together if they want to sustain an economy after the military. This was emphasized during the fourth day of the 7th Meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism at the University of Guam in Mangilao.

Women activists from Guam and foreign countries gather at the University of Guam for the 7th meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism, which entered its fourth day Thursday. Paul Blas

The morning a panel focused on the topic “Beyond the Military Economy: Exploring Alternatives for Sustainability.”

Participating were Alma Bulawan of the Buklod Center Philippines, Dr. Hannah Middleton of the Australian Anti-Base Campaign, Dr. Miyume Tanji of Curtin University of Technology in Australia, and Isabella Sumang of Palau.

Each panelist gave a perspective of the impact the military has had on their respective regions.

Bulawan had indicated that when there were bases in the Philippines, businesses were set up to cater to the military as well as prostitution. It appears now that with those bases closed, businesses and the prostitution still remain.

She referred to the Subic Bay and Clark Freeport Zones, which formerly hosted the U.S. Naval Base and the Air Force Base and have each seen the creation and development of businesses.

Despite the conversion of the old bases, Bulawan said the Philippines continues to face economic challenges.

As for Australia, Middleton explained how millions of Australian dollars are spent on military defense and other armed forces programs. A recent poll showed that 70 percent of Australians do not want any more money spent on the military.

She added that the Australians believe the money should go on helping the environment, improving hospitals and even to create jobs.

“We expect one million Australians will be unemployed in 2010, money should be spent to help them find jobs,” she said.

During the open forum, several concerns were brought up including a question on whether they felt that the threat of an invasion and war is real here in Micronesia.

Sumang responded that it could be the case especially when there is a military presence. “You have that threat hanging over your head,” she said.

Middleton offered another perspective saying that the threat is an excuse to keep military bases in the region.

“It’s not real,” she pointed out.

The women’s conference concludes today at the Carmel on the Hill Retreat Center in Malojloj or the former Carmelite Convent.

Participants are expected to discuss Human Trafficking and Prostitution and gather together in group meetings to develop short term and long term goals.

DOD exec: Japan has right to question transfer cost

DOD exec: Japan has right to question transfer cost

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 01:40 by Tiffany Sukola

Although reports from Japanese media say friction exists between the U.S. and Japan over the price tag for military buildup projects on Guam, Department of Defense officials say they are on track with the preparations for relocating the nearly 8,000 Marines from Okinawa.

Derek Mitchell, principal deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said yesterday he does not foresee any additional opposition that would delay projects preparing the island for the Marines’ 2014 arrival.

The Kyodo News Agency last month reported that there were serious differences between the two governments over a housing project that will eventually house the relocated Marines and their families.

Japanese officials have specifically said that U.S. estimates for the housing units were too high. Conflicting interpretations over the quality standards for the housing project could also potentially delay the start of construction according to the Japanese news outlet.

However, Mitchell said the U.S. government does not see Japanese concerns as a sign of opposition, but rather as the foreign government’s right to question how their money is being spent.

According to Mitchell, the Japanese government is absorbing more than half of the overall projected relocation costs, something the defense executive gives Japan credit for.

As Variety reported last month, the decision to take on $6 billion of the total costs marks the first time a Japanese government has agreed to share the costs of building and improving facilities at a U.S. base overseas.

“Anyone funding anything questions if their money is being used efficiently,” said Mitchell adding that officials in Washington are prepared to answer any financial questions from the Japanese government.

Mitchell was on island yesterday to meet with local officials to discuss the progress of military buildup projects.

According to Mitchell, he wants to reassure the people of Guam that the DOD is taking the lead role regarding the buildup which he calls strategically beneficial to the U.S. government.

“We’re expecting a lot from Guam, so Guam should expect a lot from the government,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said he has personally seen great progress over the past months despite Japanese media reports that claim the housing project is already delayed by at least six months.

Mitchell stated however that as the 2014 deadline looms, island residents can be assured that buildup projects will be completed on time.

“This is a complex operation,” said Mitchell adding that progress depends on politics in Japan, the U.S. as well as on Guam. “It will be tough until the last Marine is relocated to their new home.”

Lawyers: Marine monument decree unlawful

By Haidee V. Eugenio

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Former President George H.W. Bush did not have the authority under the Antiquities Act to manage fishing activity in huge swaths of the Pacific Ocean, including the areas around the CNMI's three northernmost islands, based on an analysis of two lawyers writing in an American Bar Association newsletter.

The authors-James P. Walsh and Gwen Fanger of the San Francisco office of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP-published their analysis in the August 2009 edition of ABA's Marine Resources Committee Newsletter.

A copy of the newsletter can be accessed at

Walsh and Fanger said Bush created the Pacific marine protected areas using the authority under the Antiquities Act “without in-depth scientific and environmental analysis, and without formal public comment.”

“Despite the alleged need to protect the marine areas because of environmental concerns, none of the Pacific MPAs [marine protected areas] were accompanied by any scientific analysis regarding the actual threat of fishing activity to the health of the marine ecosystems in the Pacific MPAs,” they said.

The lawyers said the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act have clear procedures for crafting the protections necessary for marine protected areas within the exclusive economic zone, with full public participations and transparency, which is lacking in the Antiquities Act Proclamation process.

“While the general objective of protecting the oceans is commendable, disregarding applicable law to achieve that objective is not. The ends, no matter how politically correct, do not justify ignoring and sidestepping established law,” said the lawyers.

They said the Antiquities Act contains no congressional authority to unilaterally create monuments beyond the 3-mile territorial limit traditionally applied to domestic statutes, particularly with respect to fishing activities in the water column that are not related to lands, submerged or otherwise.

Walsh and Fanger also said the Magnuson-Stevens Act and NMSA trump the vague authority of the Antiquities Act with respect to management of free-swimming fish outside U.S. territorial jurisdiction but within the exclusive economic zone.

The lawyers said the Antiquities Act was Bush's most powerful top-down regulatory tool in his sweeping ocean policy.

Just before he left office, Bush, on Jan. 6, 2009, created the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument surrounding the CNMI's islands of Farallon de Pajaros, Maug and Asuncion, and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa.

Another point stressed by the lawyers is that “pressures for change in ocean policy seem to emanate primarily from a few private trust funds, their administrators, and trust family leaders who are pursuing aggressive programs to influence specific outcomes through public 'campaigns.'”

One such trust is the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization that, among other things, has actively pursued the expansion of MPAs.

The authors said “much of the push for the Marianas Trench Monument MPA was publicly associated with the Pew Charitable Trusts.”

The Friends of the Monument, which is composed of CNMI residents, was the main proponent of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, a 95,000-square mile marine protected area. Pew was one of the biggest supporters of the Friends of the Monument.

On the policy side, Walsh and Fanger said, there are at least three questions about the true purpose and effectiveness of the Pacific MPAs.

They said the open ocean is a constantly moving and changing fluid mass, which respects no boundaries, and it is quite unclear how the creation on paper of the static Pacific MPA can possibly protect these mobile ocean waters.

“For example, what will the creation of the Pacific MPAs really do to combat global warming or prevent ocean acidification?” they asked.

Second, they said the only new constraint on human activity in the Pacific MPAs is with respect to fishing, which has not been shown to cause a serious adverse impact.

They said there is the question of adequate enforcement and research, in terms of both cost and resources, given the enormous size of the area to be protected.

“It is probably likely that much of it will not be given much attention,” said the lawyers.

The total geographic area of the Pacific MPAs comprises 335,348 square miles of “emergent and submerged lands and waters,” mostly made up of ocean waters surrounding island areas with either very small or no resident populations.

Prior to the creation of the Pacific MPAs in 2009, Bush created in 2006 the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Women meet to stop global militarism

By Amritha Alladi • Pacific Daily News • September 16, 2009

On the second day of the 7th Meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism Conference, delegates presented reports on the steps taken by organizations in their areas to promote peace and human rights.

During yesterday's meeting, Vivian Dames, associate professor of social work and women and gender studies at the University of Guam, said one delegate from Hawaii, Terry Keko'olani of Aloha'Aina, highlighted that several organizations rallied in protest against the government to retain health coverage for migrant workers.

Additionally, Dames said Keko'olani reported that domestic violence cases have occurred as a result of soldiers being affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Dames said militarism brings violence not only through war, but also through those soldiers who bring difficulties back to their families.

"The global phenomenon of militarism is impacting all of us," Dames said.

Regarding Guam specifically, Dames said one of the things that hasn't happened is a memorandum of agreement with the military in terms of resource sharing, data sharing and coordinated agreements related to violence against women, both on and off the base.

A panel presentation in the evening included a discussion on genuine security versus national security, and the United Nations' concept of human security, Dames said.

"Genuine security means you can't have security when human rights are being compromised, and there's violence against women," Dames said. "Any discussion on national security must take into account these other issues."

DoD office to push local issues on buildup

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • September 16, 2009

Guam deserves a lot more attention in Washington, D.C., as the military buildup here prepares to get under way, said a visiting Department of Defense official.

And Derek Mitchell, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said it's his office's job to push policies that will improve the island's position as thousands of military personnel are transferred to Guam and military facilities are constructed and expanded.

"We will likely be one of the leaders in the interagency in Washington to make sure that Guam is taken care of appropriately, so that we can do what we need to do ... and that Guam itself can get benefits from it," Mitchell said during a press conference yesterday.

Mitchell met with military and local officials over the past two days to learn more about buildup issues. This is his first visit to Guam, and it takes place three weeks after Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' trip here.

He said the planned buildup is on track and added, "we are firmly committed to the 2014 deadline" to relocate 8,000 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam. Military-related construction is set to begin next year.

Sen. Judith Guthertz and other senators met with Mitchell over lunch yesterday.

Guthertz, chairwoman of the Legislature's Committee on the Military Buildup, presented him with a letter asking for a commitment from the federal government to help prepare Guam's civilian community for the buildup.

"To put it bluntly, for the Guam military buildup to be successful, it must be a 'win-win' program for both the military and civilian communities," Guthertz stated in her letter.

Mitchell acknowledged several hurdles that could delay the buildup.

An amendment by Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act could drastically increase buildup-related construction wages and limit the number of foreign workers who could take part in the buildup projects.

Mitchell also said the Defense Department is closely watching the transition of Japan's new government and how that might affect the agreement between the two countries over the Marines' relocation.

But he said his main goal is to push Guam's agenda and promote its strategic importance to those in the nation's capital.

"We'll be asking a lot of Guam and Guam should expect a lot of its government, too, in Washington," he said.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Women Against Militarism Discuss Impact Of Military Build Up

It's a conference that is bringing women from around the globe to talk about the impact of military bases, and this week participants will be sharing information on what Guam may have to look forward to with the move of the us marines from Okinawa to Guam. And while some look forward to the great economic benefits, others fear the worst.

Women's conference against militarism held

Women's conference against militarism held

By Heather Hauswirth
Published Sep 14, 2009

The 7th meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism began today. Women from all around the region are on island to attend the weeklong event with the theme of "Resistance, Resilience, and Respect for Human Rights."

"We are very much concerned that women are still seen as a commodity," said Philippine delegate Gorazon Requizo. As the island prepares for the impending military buildup, participants attending this week's conference say we can expect to see more human trafficking. Requizo, a native of the PI, provided insight as she grew up near the Olongapo Province that once hosted one of the largest United States military installations.

"We are advising since there will be a military expansion now here in Guam, we must challenge the women, especially the women and people of Guam to have a very strong resistance movement to this implementation," she said.

Concerns have been raised about the relocation of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, as there were concerns in Okinawa about the Marines behavior and sexual misconduct. Victims Advocates Reaching Out executive director Vangie Cabacar said, "It's a big concern for us, our numbers are high from sexual assault cases already, the lack of federal funding is another problem."

VARO is just one of many organizations in Guam involved in the dialogue about how to mitigate the impact, but Speaker Judi Won Pat says a full pronged approach is needed. Asked if she was planning on taking any preemptive measures to protect them, she said, "Yes, absolutely." The speaker warned that talk of a red light district by GVB and individuals at the Chamber of Commerce are of concern to her.

"A possible red light district, moving them out of Tumon and at that time to Harmon, but I think this is a bigger problem. We need to look at the whole picture. We need to look at our community and what it is we need to do to protect women and young girls," she said. Won Pat says she plans to create a blue ribbon committee to counter exploitation and to help create policies to ensure the safety of women and children.

Said Won Pat, "This is going to be a policy for Guam, I know we can't legislate or mandate anything for the military, but when their men come into the community, they would have to abide by the local law." Dr. Vivian Damas, UOG professor and committee member at the conference said that while a law that defines human trafficking has been passed, there is still more to be done. "Regulation of massage parlor, reporting of violence versus women and children both on the base and off the base, if we don't do that and we don't work out the coordinated agreements, we are going to have a huge problem on this island."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Strength of Japan-U.S. alliance facing uncertainty

By Richard Halloran

Posted on: Sunday, September 13, 2009

TOKYO — A Japanese diplomat, asked what effect the election of the Democratic Party of Japan and a new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, would have on Japan's alliance with the United States, was succinct: "Nobody knows." An American official, asked the same question, sighed: "We don't know yet."

The Japan-U.S. alliance, considered until now to have been vital to the best interests of both nations, has entered a time of great uncertainty, for two reasons:

• The election of the DPJ to the control of the national Diet and the choice of Hatoyama, who is scheduled to take office on Wednesday, has brought to power a band of inexperienced politicians led by a prime minister who has issued vague, meandering and apparently contradictory statements on foreign policy.

• The absence of an articulated policy toward Japan by President Obama other than platitudes, the dispatch of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to bring greetings but little of substance to Japan last winter, and the appointment of an ambassador, John Roos, whose only credential is political fund-raiser.

Hatoyama wrote an opinion article in the Japanese monthly journal Voice that was translated into English and excerpted in The New York Times, startling some Americans with its anti-American tone. Hatoyama, asserting that his statements had been taken out of context, had the entire essay translated. The anti-U.S. tone remained but was diluted by windy passages lauding the philosophy of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi.

Coudenhove-Kalergi was an Austrian aristocrat whose mother, Mitsuko Aoyama, was Japanese and who was best known before World War II for his advocacy of European integration. He fled from Nazi Germany to the United States during the war and is said to be the model for the anti-Nazi activist Victor Lazlo in the movie "Casablanca."

Hatoyama, saying the influence of the United States is declining, wondered: "How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world's dominant power, and China, which is seeking to become one?" He suggested that an integrated East Asian community would be in Japan's interest.

A close Hatoyama adviser, Jitsuro Terashima, who heads a Tokyo think tank, appears to have carried that further. Writing in the current issue of the influential monthly magazine Bungei Shinju, he said: "Since Japan is under the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, the Japanese government is not able to form its own foreign policy." Whether Terashima advocated having Japan acquire its own nuclear weapons, he did not say.

"It is unusual that Japan still allows the U.S. to keep forces in Japan more than 60 years after the end of the war," Terashima wrote. "Japan should go back to common sense and not to let a foreign force stay in this sovereign nation." He proposed that the United States shift its forces to Guam and Hawai'i.

Ambassador Roos, who has had little experience in Japan, or in diplomacy, or coordinating the work of other agencies with officials in his embassy, or dealing with the bureaucracy back in Washington, arrived here last month.

Roos has met with Hatoyama and the prospective foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, another advocate of less reliance on the Japan-U.S. alliance. Okada has been quoted here as saying: "It will be the age of Asia and in that context it is important for Japan to have its own stance, to play its role in the region."

Japan re-considers military collaboration with US because the latter ‘spoiled’ capitalism

Baku, Fineko/

Taking upon office of prime minister of Japan on Wednesday Yukio Khatoyama, the leader of this country’s Democratic Party, decided to put the United States into its place.

In his statement Mr. Khatoyama accused the US of spoiling capitalist regime, global economy and ‘proper pride infringement’ throughout the world. As a result, nearly the PM is going to re-consider conditions of the agreement allowing American military vessels to enter Japanese ports as it goes against Japan’s accepted principles of refusal from nuclear weapons. He intends to return to the question if Japan should spend $6 billion on transfer of thousands of US military men at the Okinava to the Pacific island Guam.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Upheaval On Guam's Horizon

What Full Congressional Voting Rights Could Do For The Territory

Blas To Conduct Village Hearings This Month

By Jeff Marchesseault

GUAM - They say that every crisis presents an opportunity. But even if one argues that there is no crisis in Guam's military buildup, another can certainly rebut that Guam could easily wind up with the short end of the stick if its leaders don't fight for every inch of opportunity they can gain from a massive Department of Defense project that has a lot less to do with what's good for the people of Guam and a lot more to do with what's good for the security of the world.

But, as one local senator is apt to point out, these two ends need not be mutually exclusive. What's good for one can indeed be good for all.

And the interests of Guam is just what's driving this determined Guam lawmaker to continue his fight for the unincorporated U.S. territory to have a bigger, more powerful voice in Washington as the island sits smack dab in the middle of a geopolitical reprioritization that will mean nothing less than a reality-changing paradigm shift for islanders. And if the good senator's efforts (and those of like mind) do pay off, then that shift will ultimately be good for Guam.

Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. Blas announced today that he will conduct public hearings on Resolution No. 160 (COR). This resolution requests the committed action of the members of the United States House of Representatives to provide full voting rights and privileges to Guam's representative to Congress on all matters relating to and affecting Guam and the military buildup on Guam.

Senator Blas went on to say that "Major decisions are being made in Congress by individuals who probably [don't] even know where Guam is." This, said Blas, "is evidenced [in] the House version of the Defense Authorization Act; it contained at least two provisions that, if enacted into law, would have a significant impact on our people. What we're asking for is the opportunity to participate in decisions that will affect us."

The first of three public hearings, said Senator Blas, will convene in Barrigada on Wednesday, September 16, 2009, followed by hearings in Yigo on September 18, 2009, and Inarajan on September 23, 2009. According to the Senator, the hearings will start at 6:00 pm. A final hearing, if needed, will be conducted at Guam Legislature's Public Hearing Room.

All those interested in sharing their views are invited by Senator Blas and attend any of the three public hearings scheduled for this month on Resolution No. 160 (COR).

For more information, the Senator can be reached at his office 472-2527.

Guam bureau supports MVA plea for federalization delay

By Moneth Deposa

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Guam Visitors Bureau has backed the position of its counterpart in the CNMI by adopting a resolution that supports a delay in the implementation of federalization by another year, or until Oct. 1, 2010.

GVB board chair David B. Tydingco, along with 12 other board members, is convinced the Department of Homeland Security is not ready to implement the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 on Nov. 28 this year.

That law, Public Law 110-229, extends the application of the Immigration and Nationality Act to the CNMI. Its intent is to establish six ports of entry in the Commonwealth to enable the Secretary of Homeland Security to administer and enforce the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, and to allow for the application of U.S. immigration laws in the CNMI.

It is also intended to establish requirements for nonimmigrant visitors wanting to go to Guam or the CNMI under the visa waiver program.

“The delay in implementation of P.L. 110-229 will allow time for the DHS to implement additional security measures such as electronic travel authorization, biometric entry-exit requirements, and other border patrol security infrastructure in the CNMI to address security concerns as well as cooperate with China in reducing the rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals,” the GVB resolution stated.

P.L. 110-229 excluded two important tourism markets-China and Russia-from the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

Recently, the CNMI Marianas Visitors Authority adopted a resolution urging Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan to introduce legislation that would indefinitely delay the federalization law.

It cited, among other things, the impact to the CNMI of losing both Chinese and Russian markets.

MVA earlier disclosed that Russian and Chinese visitors accounted for 20 percent of the total number of tourists who visited the islands in FY 2008.

The agency estimated that it stands to lose $66.7 million in direct impact and $218.3 million in indirect impact in a 12-month period if it loses these markets.

The DHS had rejected the proposal to include Russia and China in the visa waiver program due to security and political concerns.


Press secretary Charles Reyes Jr. welcomed yesterday the support shown by the Guam bureau.

“We welcome this development and we're very appreciative of their support to the CNMI tourism and economy,” he told Saipan Tribune.

Reyes said the resolution only shows that there is a “consensus” in the idea of delaying federalization.

“This is another indication of the consensus in this region. .We're all asking to delay the implementation,” he said, expressing hope that there will be positive action in Congress since majority in the affected areas have spoken their piece.

In the CNMI, the Fitial administration, Legislature, business groups, and community members have expressed their support to delay anew the law's implementation.

“It's not in our control [the decision to delay].but it's the right thing to do and we're going to fight for what is right whether it is feasible or not,” Reyes said, adding that everybody acknowledges that DHS is not ready at this time.

“We're united on this issue and there is no logical choice but to delay it.” he added.

Incoming Tokyo government threatens split with US

A split is emerging between the United States and Japan over the new Tokyo government's anti-globalisation rhetoric and its threats to end a refueling agreement for US ships in support of the war in Afghanistan.

By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Published: 4:38PM BST 11 Sep 2009

Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, has caused alarm in Washington after publishing an article blaming the US for the ills of capitalism, the global economy and "the destruction of human dignity".

He also intends to examine an agreement that permits US warships to dock at Japanese ports, in violation of the nation's non-nuclear principles. Mr Hatoyama says he will also look again at the $6 billion cost faced by Japan to transfer thousands of US troops from their base in Okinawa to the Pacific island of Guam amid a wide-ranging review of the American military presence on Japanese soil.

His election campaign promised a more "independent" foreign policy from Washington and closer relations with Asian neighbours, including China. On Thursday, he repeated his intention to defy the US and end the Maritime Self-Defence Force's resupply mission in the Indian Ocean.

Mr Hatoyama will be sworn in on Wednesday after an historic victory that ended decades of near unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party. He will have his first meeting with Barack Obama, the US president, at the United Nations on Sep 22.

The Pentagon reminded Japan of the expectations it faced as a "great power and one of the world's wealthiest countries". Geoff Morrell, a spokesman, said: "There is an international responsibility, we believe, for everyone to do their share, as best they can, to contribute to this effort to bring about a more peaceful and secure Afghanistan."

The Defence Department would not "prejudge" Japan's new political leadership, he added.

"We think that when the responsibility of governing comes about that people will appreciate, as we have every reason to believe they do, the importance of this alliance and the importance of working together on these [security] agreements," he said.

Makoto Watanabe, a professor of media and communication at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, said: "The US has been critical of new trends in Japan, but we are not a colony of Washington and we should be able to say what we want.

"The Japan-US relationship will remain our most important bilateral link, but while under previous governments Japan had become a yes-man to the US, this suggests to me that healthy change is taking place."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pentagon holding firm on Japan base realignment agreement

Japanese lawmakers want to scrap plans in ’06 bilateral deal

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, September 12, 2009

CHATAN, Okinawa — The Pentagon on Wednesday reasserted the United States’ stance that the 2006 bilateral agreement to realign U.S. troops in Japan was cast in stone.

During a press briefing, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said he expected Japan’s new government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, will continue to work with the U.S. "on all the existing agreements we have in place."

Those agreements, he said, include "the base realignment, the Guam realignment and so forth."

The comments came after news that the DPJ will form a government with the minority Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party after three days of intense negotiations concerning the military alliance with the U.S.

All three parties favor scrapping the current plan to build a new Marine airstrip on Camp Schwab, in rural northeast Okinawa. Under the 2006 agreement, the two countries agreed to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the middle of a dense urban area to Camp Schwab. The plan also calls for moving 8,000 Marines and their families to Guam by the end of 2014.

The DPJ softened its rhetoric concerning the realignment during the campaign leading up to its smashing defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan for more than 50 years. Instead, the party focused on domestic issues.

But in forming the coalition government, the two minority parties insisted on a statement concerning the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

Katsuya Okada, the Democratic Party’s No. 2 executive and expected to be the country’s next foreign minister, told reporters Wednesday that the three parties agreed to "propose amending the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, and will consider revising the planned realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, as well as reviewing the nature of U.S. bases in Japan."

The agreement said nothing concerning the left-leaning SDP’s demand to end the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling missions in the Indian Ocean, Okada said. Morrell said he hoped Japan would continue refueling U.S. ships in the future.

"We have greatly benefited from — as has the world, for that matter — from Japan’s participation in those efforts, and we would very much encourage them to continue those efforts," he said.

"Japan is a great power, one of the world’s wealthiest countries," he said. "And there is an international responsibility, we believe, for everyone to do their share, as best they can, to contribute to this effort to bring about a more peaceful and secure Afghanistan."

Some Asia experts predict there will be room for compromising on issues such as the Futenma replacement plan. During a meeting of the Pacific Forum’s Center for Strategic and International Studies in San Francisco last March, Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, said changes in the alliance would come with a new government.

"Regarding the U.S.-Japan security relationship: If the government of Japan asked us to change things, we’d argue, we’d kick and scream, but ultimately we’d have to do it," Armitage said.