MARIANAS REACTS TO JAPAN DESCRIBING THE U.S. TERRITORY "UNSAFE"

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SAIPAN, Northern Marianas (September 26, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---The Northern Marianas government is in a damage control mode following a travel advisory issued by Japan describing Saipan as an "unsafe" destination.

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website highlights incidents of pick pocketing, diving accidents, and the murder of a tourist in Saipan to discourage Japanese from visiting the Commonwealth.

Dave Saplan, Chairman of the Marianas Visitors Authority, said although tourists are being closely monitored to assure their safety, travelers also need to be more responsible.

"We have a melting pot with Bangladesh, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and people from the islands," Saplan said. "There are bound to be some differences."

Saplan said crimes such as purse snatching happen throughout the world and are not just isolated to the Marianas.

The government has formed an ad hoc committee consisting of immigration, labor, public safety and business officials to address safety concerns in the Marianas.

"We are addressing every possible problem," he said. "The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is really a safe place to visit."

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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