JAPANESE INVESTORS TO TOUR CNMI’S TINIAN

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65 years after U.S. bombers launched from the island

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor SAN JOSE, Tinian (Marianas Business Journal, Aug. 30, 2010) - A group of Japanese investors will be inspecting the island in mid-September as they scope for possible areas of investment.

Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz told the Journal that several executives he met during his visit to Japan in early August will be coming to Tinian to look at options for possible businesses.

"I met quite a few investors from different areas of investment in Japan. Some of them are interested in investing on oyster farming here on Tinian. I told them to come and take a look at the area," said Dela Cruz.

[PIR editor’s note: In one of the world’s most catastrophic wartime events, U.S. bombers launched from Tinian during World War II dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 followed by another bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9.]

Prior to going to Japan to attend the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Dela Cruz said a company with revenues of US$25 million was considering doing business on Tinian and intended to study the area for a possible farming business. He declined to offer any details as he had yet to meet with the investors.

Dela Cruz also told the Journal another company is looking at generating wind power and he said he invited them to come to Tinian to do a pilot project. Dela Cruz expressed optimism in the project knowing the prospects for this new and cleaner form of energy to take utility costs down to an affordable level.

Dela Cruz said he also met with business people in the floral business -- a multimillion-dollar industry in Japan.

He said those investors import flowers from Hawai΄i to Japan. The Tinian mayor assured them that a lot of the flowers can be grown on Tinian given the island’s "top-quality soil." "This is one of the areas I feel we can compete," he said.

Although he couldn’t put a price tag on the infusion of possible dollars into the local economy, Dela Cruz said the investors promised to take a look and recommend which industries to develop on the island as well as promote in Japan.

In the wake of Neo Gold Wings Paradise Corp’s terminated lease on public land due to noncompliance of the lease agreement, as well as other stalled investments, the Tinian mayor requested the Tinian Gaming Commission to review its books and assess whether slots could be made available and offered to prospective investors. Neo Goldwings, a Korean company, had planned to build a US$1 million casino on the island; its lease, granted in 2008, was ended by the Department of Public Lands mid-August with the company owing more than US$100,000 in rental and other payments.

The mayor said 80 percent of the people he met in Japan don’t know where Tinian is. He said he tried to let them know that islands like Tinian and Rota are part of the Northern Mariana Islands and he invited them to come see that the islands are "beautiful" and "pristine" communities.

Meanwhile, the mayor has yet to receive a response from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar regarding the letter he sent requesting to designate the atomic bomb pits as a national park. If so designated, Tinian could explore federal funding sources to enhance the area and make it more accessible to the public, the mayor said.

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