Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guam - 70th Anniversary of Liberation Day

Fireside Chat at War in the Pacific National Historical Park,
July 19, 2014

On July 21, 1945 the first US Marines landed on the island of Guam. After nearly two and one-half years of brutal Japanese rule, liberation had begun. Liberated, not reoccupied, was how the survivors felt.

The Japanese invasion was December 10, 1941,  days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Renamed “Omiya Jima” (The Great Shrine Island), Guam became an important base for Japanese military operations. Most Americans were shipped to POW camps in Japan while some of the American women left behind were rumored to become Comfort Women. Chamorro men were pressed into forced labor, Comfort Women were imported, and Japanese Catholic priests were brought in to pacify the people.

In the last weeks of the war, survivors say that the Japanese abandoned all humanity. Beatings, beheadings, murders, and rapes--raw rage--confronted the people of Guam as the Japanese invaders desperately fought the Marines. Adding to the chaos, the American naval and aerial bombardment of Guam killed and maimed countless civilians.

The result is a lingering bitterness toward both the Japanese and Americans. There is a sense on the island that so much was sacrificed, but so little appreciated or recognized. For years, like the American POWs of the Japan, the people of Guam have asked for some sort of ex gratia payment for their unique suffering. As you can see from the recent news story on the demise of H.R. 44, Guam has been no more successful than the POWs.

Senate rejects Guam war claims
Jun. 20, 2014 Written by Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

U.S. citizens on Guam could get priority treatment when it comes to federal housing assistance, according to an Omnibus Territories bill approved yesterday by the U.S. Senate, but Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo expressed disappointment that the Senate once again rejected a provision to pay war claims to Guam.

According to Bordallo's office, four Republican senators: Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee; John Barrosso, of Wyoming; Mike Lee, of Utah; and Tim Scott, of South Carolina, removed Guam war claims from the bill, and also a provision that would have saved the local government as much as $500,000 in local matching funds for federal grants.

The Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee left those provisions intact in the bill it worked on, according to Bordallo's office, but they were removed before floor consideration by the full Senate because of objections raised by the four Republicans.

"I am extremely disappointed that H.R. 44 was removed from the Omnibus Territories Act that was passed by the U.S. Senate this evening," Bordallo said yesterday in a written statement. H.R. 44 is her latest war claims bill for Guam, introduced in January 2013, and included in the Omnibus Territories bill last summer.

It would tap federal section 30 funding for Guam -- income taxes paid by the island's federal employees -- to fund reparations for Guam residents who suffered during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II. It called for payments of as much as $15,000, using an increase in section 30 money expected from the pending military buildup.

Guam is seeking reimbursement from the federal government and not Japan because the United States decades ago forgave Japan's war debts.

There is no official cost estimate for Guam war claims, but news files cite a figure as high as $80 million. That's less than half the cost of earlier reparations bills.

'Ideological grounds'

"Passing war claims has been a long standing issue for our community and has been an effort that Congressmen Won Pat, Blaz, and Underwood, and I have all worked to resolve. The latest version of the bill addressed every concern that has been raised by conservatives, and it would have had no impact on federal spending. Despite addressing each of these concerns, several U.S. Senators continue to object to this bill on ideological grounds and have fundamental objections with opening reparations for any group."

Congress came close to approving war claims in 2009, when the Senate offered to pay war claims, but only to survivors of the war, and not their descendants. Bordallo at the time rejected the offer, saying she wanted descendants to be paid as well.

Her war claims proposals have been rejected ever since.

According to Pacific Daily News files, critics of the reparations bill, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remain influential and conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, are ready to challenge the measure if it advances.

Some Guam lawmakers in early 2013 opposed the idea of using section 30 funding for the payments, arguing Guam would be paying the debt with its own money.

They relented, however, after Bordallo said the measure had no chance of moving forward without a way to offset the federal government's costs. They passed a resolution supporting her bill.

"I will continue to work to find a resolution that finally recognizes loyalty of the people of Guam during World War II," Bordallo said yesterday.

"I will consult with the governor and the Legislature and on our remaining options to advance war claims I am committed to continuing our fight for war claims for our manamko' despite all the obstacles the conservative Republicans continue to raise."


• May 9, 2007: The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act passes the House by a vote of 288-133. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

• April 17, 2008: The U.S. Senate attempts to pass the Guam war claims bill. The effort fails after Republican Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina objects to a motion for a unanimous consent.

• January 2009: Bordallo reintroduces the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act as H.R. 44.

• February 2009: The House passes a $126 million bill to compensate Guam victims of the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II. The House sends the bill to the Senate for the second time. The House approves the same bill in 2007, only to see it stall in the Senate.

• June 26, 2009: Bordallo includes the war claims bill in the House version of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, saying the war reparations measure has a better chance of passing now.

• Oct. 7, 2009: A conference committee composed of House and Senate members decides not to include the measure in the defense bill. Bordallo rejects a compromise offered by the Senate "because it would not recognize all of those who endured Guam's occupation," she said.

• 2011 and 2012: Attempts to pass the measure fail.

• Jan. 4, 2013: Bordallo introduces another Guam war claims bill, which would tap the island's federal section 30 tax money related to the military buildup as a funding source.

• May 2013: Bordallo's war claims bill is incorporated in a House of Representatives Omnibus Territories bill.

• June 18, 2014: The Senate passes the Omnibus Territories bill, but removes the Guam war claims provisions.

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