JAPANESE LAWMAKER SNUBBED ON GUAM

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 19) – A member of Japan's House of Representatives is telling the virtual world he felt snubbed by Gov. Felix Camacho.

Mikio Shimoji, 44, a member of the Japan Diet's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Security, states on his Japanese-language Web site that he visited Guam May 3 to 5.

He had requested a meeting with the governor as well as visits to the Navy base and Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.

He returned to Japan without face time with Camacho, and without setting foot on either military base. He did, however, meet with some of the leaders of the local business community and with Navy and Coast Guard representatives, according to his Web site."During this trip, twice, the governor of Guam has canceled a meeting with me," according to a Japanese-to-English translation of Shimoji's report of his Guam trip.

Shawn Gumataotao, executive assistant to the governor, issued this response when asked by the Pacific Daily News: "Unfortunately, there was a pressing matter to attend to and the governor was unable to meet with Rep. Shimoji."

Shimoji stated he was informed, while on Guam, that the governor might have been advised by the Pentagon not to meet with him.

If true, Shimoji said, such an action was "puzzling."

The governor's office denied any Pentagon involvement in the governor's inability to meet with Shimoji.

The Japanese lawmaker's visit to Guam was in connection with the relocation of about 8,000 U.S. Marines and about 10,000 of their dependents, from his hometown of Okinawa to Guam.

Japan has been paying attention to developments concerning the relocation, not just because it signals a downsizing of U.S. Marines' presence in Japan, but also because Japanese taxpayers will pick up a big part of the tab for the relocation.

Moving 8,000 Marines and their families will cost about $10.3 billion, and the Japanese government is expected to finance about $6 billion of the cost, according to Pacific Daily News files.

The governor did not know the purpose of the meeting Shimoji was seeking, according to the governor's executive assistant. "Because the meeting never happened, we are unaware," Gumataotao said.

On his Web site, the Okinawan lawmaker stated he wanted to discuss the possibility of direct flights between Okinawa and Guam, and a possible guest worker program in which skilled Okinawan construction workers can work on Guam for some of the military construction projects related to the Marines' relocation.

The Okinawan lawmaker has turned independent after he left Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party last year. With the party, he was deputy chairman of a special committee on military bases.

On his Web site, Shimoji said of part of his Guam trip's purpose: "I wanted to suggest that we cooperate with each other and to strengthen our partnership with the politicians and people of Guam, who are prepared to accept the Marines based in Okinawa."

Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan, Sen. Tony Unpingco, Guam Chamber of Commerce officials and construction industry business executives were among those who found time, however, to meet with Shimoji on Guam, according to the lawmaker's Web site.

The Guam Visitors Bureau has made numerous efforts to knock on doors of influential people in Japan to promote Guam as a friendly vacation destination.

The governor's office, when asked if it's worried about a public relations fallout in Japan stemming from the Shimoji situation, replied with a simple "No."

May 19, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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