Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (May 9) – Once again, Congress is considering legislation that would finally, more than 60 years later, compensate Guam victims, and their survivors, for the brutality they suffered during the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II.

The bill would provide $126 million in compensation, based on the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission in 2004 that the indigenous people of Guam were not treated the same as other Americans regarding war claims.

The House of Representatives was expected to vote on the bill earlier today, but that will be just the first major hurdle cleared. The legislation also would require passage by the Senate, and then the signature of President George W. Bush to make the war claims bill law.

We strongly urge Congress and the president to make this happen. These war reparations are long, long overdue and certainly very deserved. Delegate Madeleine Bordallo put it best when she said the passage of this bill into law would fulfill a "moral obligation" owed to the people of Guam by the United States.

The inhabitants of Guam had to endure forced labor, beatings, rape, murder and beheadings under the Japanese occupation, and through it all they remained steadfast and loyal to the United States. These people sacrificed to protect the life of Navy radioman George Tweed, kept small American flags in the certainty that U.S. forces would return, knowing that it meant death if they were found. Though most were not U.S. citizens at the time, they were all true Americans.

Refusing -- year after year, Congress after Congress, presidential administration after presidential administration -- to rightly compensate Guam residents for the many deprivations and cruel acts during the occupation of Guam makes the United States look like a ungrateful and uncaring Uncle Sam.

It's high past time that the leaders of the United States did right by the people of Guam. Pass the war reparations bill. Give not only the compensation that's long overdue, but the recognition of the sacrifices made by the people of Guam.

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