OKINAWA LAWMAKER TO MEET LEADERS ON GUAM

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb 20 – The honorable Mikio Shimoji, a member of the House of Representatives of the National Diet of Japan, is scheduled to hold a meeting this week with various island community leaders.

Shimoji, who represents the people of Okinawa in the National Diet of Japan, is scheduled to meet with Guam senators at 10 a.m. this Wednesday.

While on Guam, Shimoji is also scheduled to hold a town hall meeting 4 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Guam lecture hall.

Sen. Judith Guthertz, D-Mangilao, said Shimoji is expected to open dialogue with lawmakers and the people of Guam on the projected 30,000 Marines and family members who will be relocated from Okinawa to Guam.

"I strongly urge the public to attend the town hall meeting at UOG to join in the public discussion and engage in question and answer sessions to learn about the military build-up, voice their concerns, or just be informed," Guthertz said.

She added that the insights that will be shared by Shimoji will be invaluable and will help Guam lawmakers to adequately prepare for the transfer of military personnel to Guam.

Earlier, concerns were raised that the transfer of the Marines to Guam might overburden the island’s infrastructure, as well as cause various socio-economic problems, including increased crime and prostitution.

Last month, a delegation of Japanese lawmakers also visited Guam to inspect the facilities where the Okinawa-based Marines and their dependents will be transferred.

In 2006, several Guam lawmakers and then Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan visited Okinawa upon the invitation of Shimoji.

While there, the Guam delegation was briefed by Shimoji about the effects of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa’s lifestyle.

The Guam delegation visited communities that host U.S. military bases and got a glimpse at how local communities cope with the large U.S. military presence.

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