Pacific activists link up against buildup

February 24, 2010

Region’s activists link up against buildup

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 03:08 by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff

ACTIVISTS from Guam and the CNMI, joined by their supporters from Okinawa and Hawaii, are holding a protest rally today at the front gate of Pacific Command Headquarters at Camp Smith in ‘Aiea, Oahu, to oppose the military expansion in the Marianas.

Joining the Guam and CNMI groups are students from Okinawa and members of the American Friends Service Committee and DMZ Hawai’i/Aloha ‘Ain.

“The grassroots voices of our people are being ignored by the military, U.S. politicians and the mainstream media,” said Kisha Borja-Kicho’cho’, a University of Hawai’i student and a coordinator for the local organization “Fight for Guahan.”

“So, we came to deliver a message directly to the Commander of the U.S. military in the Pacific that we, the peoples of Guahan, the Northern Marianas, Okinawa and Hawai‘i reject any further military build up in the Pacific. Our islands are not weapons to be used in wars against other peoples and countries. We demand peace,” she added.

Dr. Hope Cristobal, criticized the Department of Defense’s plan to take over 40 percent of Guam, where citizens are excluded from voting in national elections.

Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright said that across the Pacific, including in Okinawa, Guam and Hawai‘I, people are opposing the military expansion in the region.

“We want Admiral Willard to hear this: No means no. When you force yourself on someone against their will, it’s called rape-rape of the people, the culture and the land. We Americans must stop our government’s military expansion in the Pacific,” Wright said.

AFSC Hawai‘i program director Kyle Kajihiro said Okinawa has been presented with false options.

“Removing bases and troops from Okinawa, does not require moving them to Guam or Hawai‘i. The military can reduce its overall footprint in the Pacific,” he said. “Clean up and give back the lands taken from the peoples in Okinawa, Guam and Hawai‘i.”

When President Obama visits Guam in March, activists will present him a petition telling him that islanders do not want more military in the Mariana Islands.

Japan eyes Northern Marianas for relocating 4000 U.S. troops

February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Relocation of up to 4,000 US troops to CNMI mulled

By Haidee V. Eugenio


Visiting Japanese lawmakers said yesterday they may recommend the relocation of 2,000 to 4,000 U.S. troops from the aviation units at Futenma in Japan to the CNMI, on top of the 8,000 Marines to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam, said Senate Pres. Paul A. Manglona (R-Rota).

National Diet or Japan Legislature members Mikio Shimoji, Tomoko Abe, and Ryoichi Hattori met with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, House Speaker Froilan C. Tenorio (Cov-Saipan), and Manglona at the Saipan airport yesterday afternoon, on their way to Guam.

Shimoji, Abe, and Hattori are part of the 23-member Japanese government delegation arriving on Guam for what Fitial described as a “fact-finding” visit, particularly to see if there’s suitable place on Guam for more U.S. troops to be relocated off Okinawa.

This is in addition to the estimated 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents who are expected to be relocated by 2014, although Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho asked for the military buildup to be delayed until after 2014.

Fitial and other CNMI officials were one in saying they welcome the relocation of U.S. troops to the Commonwealth provided the U.S. government consents to such move.

“We’re not offering them anything. We’re just telling them we welcome them, provided that the U.S. government consents or concurs,” the governor said.

Manglona and Fitial clarified that there is no definite plan to move U.S. troops to the CNMI, but it’s one of the options being looked at.

“Shimoji said they will recommend moving troops to the CNMI. He gave the range. It could be 2,000 or 3,000 or 4,000,” he said.

Guam trip

Fitial will travel to Guam to attend today’s meeting between Guam officials and the visiting Japanese delegation led by Yorihisa Matsuno, deputy chief Cabinet secretary of the Japan Diet.

The three Japanese lawmakers who made a stopover on Saipan were major players in the relocation talks. Shimoji is the policy chief of the People’s New Party, one of the tripartite ruling coalitions in Japan, while Abe is the policy chief of the Social Democratic Party. Hattori is also with the Social Democratic Party.

“They’re looking at all options, including Guam and the CNMI. I will be listening to what Guam has to say. As I said, I welcome them provided that the U.S. government concurs,” Fitial said.

Manglona said Tinian has been waiting for decades to welcome military presence on the island.

“It seems they have been listening to the people, as they prepare to meet with the U.S. government. We made it clear to the Japanese lawmakers that the CNMI is open, but we defer making decisions to the U.S. government,” Manglona said.

Fitial said as with all other existing relocation plans, any cost to move troops to the CNMI should not be borne by the CNMI.

Both the CNMI and Guam governors had said that socio-economic impacts are the major concerns when it comes to the massive military buildup on Guam, and Fitial said this is also true with any plan to relocate U.S. troops to the CNMI.

Fitial said Japanese lawmakers wanted to visit the CNMI again to see for themselves any room for U.S. troops to be relocated.

Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) said Tinian welcomes any plan to relocate U.S. troops to the island, two-thirds of which is leased by the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The lease makes it easier for them to come here. We certainly welcome the plan or the option of choosing the CNMI as a site for relocating U.S. troops from Japan,” said Hofschneider, who is the chairman of the Tinian Legislative Delegation.

Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz earlier said that an expected decrease in civilian tourist arrivals to the island as a result of he massive buildup should be mitigated by an increase in military personnel and their families’ visit to Tinian for rest and recreation.

Dela Cruz also said the military should ensure an effective quarantine system to prevent brown tree snakes, rhinoceros beetles, and other invasive species from entering Tinian.

‘Stretch out and spread out’

Sen. Judith Guthertz of Guam, in a Jan. 28 letter to Joint Guam Program Office executive director David Bice, recommended stretching out and spreading out the relocation of U.S. troops from Okinawa to Guam.

She said the U.S. military should consider relocating the First Marine Aircraft Wing aviation command from Futenma to Tinian and Agrigan or the Goat Island in the CNMI.

“This command numbers about 4,000. The mayor of Tinian and Agrigan has already asked the U.S. military to consider these islands for the buildup. Agrigan is uninhabited and the federal government already has a long-term lease for the northern two-thirds of Tinian,” she told Bice.

Guthertz, who chairs the Committee on the Guam Military Buildup and Homeland Security, said the Marines’ movement should be spread over eight years instead of only two years from 2014.

Lastly, she suggested the reduction in size of the movement to Guam by 50 percent-for about 4,000 active duty Marines.

“This would still provide a greater than 100 percent jump in footprint, but provide a greater welcome mat for our Marines,” she told Bice.

The Futenma issue has become a sticking point in the military realignment talks.

The recent election of an anti-base mayor in Nago made it more difficult to move Marine air operations and led to a growing sentiment among Okinawans to move Futenma operations outside Okinawa and outside Japan.

US military may displace 30 Tinian farmers

April 10, 2009

30 Tinian farmers, ranchers may be displaced by the US military

3 april 2009

By Moneth Deposa

A significant number of farmers, ranchers, and hog raisers on Tinian are expected to be displaced if the U.S. military decides to fully utilize the property it leased on the island.

According to the Tinian Legislative Delegation, up to 30 ranchers and farmers-about 80 percent of the island’s agriculture sector-would be affected and the municipality needs to find a site soon for their relocation.

Delegation chair Sen. Joseph Mendiola said final plans detailing what specific part of Tinian will be used for military exercises and training will be presented to the island’s leaders in July.

The U.S. military holds the lease to about two-thirds of available land on Tinian.

“We don’t know yet the final plans for Tinian. Up to this time, we’re still waiting word from the military, which is also coordinating with the municipality and the governor. [There is] no final word yet if all two-thirds of Tinian would be used for their training sites,” he said.

Without the military’s confirmation, the delegation cannot plan for the future of its farmers and ranchers, Mendiola said.

Although the Tinian community is counting on the positive economic impact of the buildup, they are also concerned about possible displacement.

“A lot of farmers and ranchers would be displaced if they [U.S. military] decide to use the entire two-thirds of Tinian,” Mendiola said

The senator said some public lands on Tinian may be identified as new sites for the farmers and ranchers.

If it were up to him, Mendiola said, he prefers that the military use the North Field as an exclusive military training ground.

He added that the island’s airport is close to the U.S. military’s leased property and problems may arise if the area is used for live-fire training and other military exercises.

The transfer of some 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam starting in 2012 is projected to benefit the CNMI, particularly Tinian.

However, Mendiola said, even the approximate number of U.S. Marines who will be assigned to Tinian is not known yet.

“Even that number is not available to us.we’re still on a ‘waiting game,'” he said, adding that whatever recommendation the CNMI leadership may have for the military would be supported by the delegation.

Gitmo in the Pacifik?

January 27, 2009 

CNMI can host Gitmo detainees

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 00:00

By Emmanuel T. Erediano – Variety News Staff

DUE to the bad economy, the commonwealth cannot afford to be too choosy about opportunities that knock on its door – even if it means becoming the “new Guantanamo Bay.”

Rep. Ray N. Yumul, R-Saipan and an Army Reservist, brought up this idea during yesterday’s discussion in the House chamber about the implementation of the federal immigration system this year.

Yumul said the federal government is now considering the transfer of the “Gitmo” detainees from Cuba.

“We need to encourage the military planners to consider the NMI,” he said.

Some states like Pennsylvania have already expressed interest in hosting the Guantanamo Bay detainees, he added.

Hundreds of terror suspects are being detained in Guantanamo, which President Obama wants to shut down.

Yumul said the CNMI was on the shortlist when the military was considering places where suspected terrorists could be detained.

Tinian, Yumul said, can be an ideal place since 2/3 of its land is leased to the U.S. military.

“We need to sit down as a community and look at our options,” Yumul said. “It’s something that we definitely need to consider.”

Aside from the creation of jobs, new infrastructure and business opportunities, hosting the Gitmo detainees can give the CNMI people the chance “to show their patriotism.”

He recalled that in the past, boat people from Vietnam who made their way to the Pacific were brought to Tinian after they were denied entry to Guam.

Asked about the possible terrorist threats to the CNMI, Yumul said “the U.S. has a very high standard of maintaining security, so it will not be a problem.”

America’s broken trust in Micronesia

February 20, 2007 


Micronesia has a complicated past

The islands have been conquered by a string of powers, the latest being the U.S.

By Gary T. Kubota

MAJURO, Marshall Islands » Micronesia, once known as the Caroline Islands, occupies an expanse of about 3 million square miles of ocean with more than 2,000 islands, atolls and islets.

The size is comparable to the contiguous United States.

But the total land mass is about 913 square miles, less than the size of Rhode Island or one-fourth of the Big Island.

Haunani-Kay Trask, a Hawaiian-studies professor at the University of Hawaii, said there are historic parallels between the Hawaiian Islands and island nations in Micronesia.

“We have all of that colonial expansion out of Europe in common. … Both suffered bombing and occupation by the U.S. military,” she said.

The sister civilizations are also facing similar challenges, as their native peoples seek a sovereign status, including reparations for bombed lands, health problems related to the Westernization of their culture, global warming and loss of ocean resources.

Critics say the United States, entrusted by the United Nations with helping the islands toward self-government, fell short of its mandate to develop them economically, socially and politically.

“I think there were shortcomings in those areas,” said David Hanlon, director of Pacific studies at the University of Hawaii.

Since the islands were sighted by Westerners in the 1500s, most of Micronesia has been a trade route eastward to Asia and was conquered by a succession of nations, including Spain, Germany, Japan and the United States.

Some islanders still speak Japanese, and their surnames are a calabash of Micronesia, Asian and Western names.

Under a United Nations mandate in 1948, much of Micronesia was placed under the administration of the United States as a strategic trust territory.

The U.S. was entrusted with helping the region develop.

Four separate political entities have emerged out of the former U.N. Trust Territory of the Pacific, including the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

The Micronesian island of Guam, which was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1898 after the defeat of Spain, is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Under a Compact of Free Association, the four governments have gained self-rule but agreed to allow the United States to control military access and use, in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.

The United States continues to use islands in Micronesia for military exercises, including Kwajalein for its missile test range, Tinian for military maneuvers and Farrallon de Medenilla for bombing practice.