U.S. Government Moving Forward With War Reparations For Guam Residents
Funding to pay affected people comes from diverting tax revenue that would have gone for government operations
By Jerick Sablan
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 13, 2017) – The federal government is moving forward on a new law that requires the payment of war claims to Guam residents, according to a notice in the Federal Register.
The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which is part of the Justice Department, is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to begin gathering information from as many as 5,000 people and estates on Guam related to war claims, the notice states. The information collected will be used by the commission to decide claims for compensation.
The 2017 defense budget included a section to pay war claims to those who were killed, injured, or subjected to forced labor, march or imprisonment during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II. Payments would come from the island's federal Section 30 funding, the law states. Section 30 is income tax money collected from federal workers on Guam and remitted to the local government each year. Any annual Section 30 funding in excess of $70 million would be earmarked to pay war claims.
The Section 30 funding mechanism would continue every year until all claims are paid, Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo's office has stated.
In effect, the war claims will be paid by diverting tax money that otherwise would go to government of Guam coffers.
The proposed war reparations needed another funding source to offset federal government spending elsewhere in its budget, in order for the legislation to get Congress' support, Bordallo's office has stated.
The law spells out details of the monetary reparations, including:
- The surviving spouse or children of a Guam resident who died during the Japanese occupation, or as Guam was being liberated by the U.S. military, can claim $25,000.
For wartime survivors who suffered:
- Rape or severe personal injury such as loss of a limb, dismemberment or paralysis, $15,000;
- Forced labor or a personal injury not specified above, such as disfigurement, scarring or burns, $12,000; and
- Forced march, internment, or hiding to evade internment, $10,000.
"The United States recognizes that, as described by the Guam War Claims Review Commission, the residents of Guam, on account of their United States nationality, suffered unspeakable harm as a result of the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II, by being subjected to death, rape, severe personal injury, personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment," the law states.
"The United States forever will be grateful to the residents of Guam for their steadfast loyalty to the United States, as demonstrated by the countless acts of courage they performed despite the threat of Imperial Japanese military forces that occupied Guam during World War II," the law states.
Pacific Daily News
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