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Friday, April 4, 2008

Hillary Clinton on Compensation for Guamanians for World War II Suffering

As a senator, I have supported the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (H.R 1595), a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would implement the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission regarding claims of residents of Guam injured when the territory was under the military control of Imperial Japan during World War II.

I will continue to advocate for Senate passage of the bill this year, and its enactment into law. But, if those efforts are not successful, as President of the United States, I will get it passed next year so that we may provide these survivors and their families with the compensation they deserve for their courageous devotion to the United States during Japanese occupation.

By the time that the United States liberated Guam in July 1944, almost all of the island’s inhabitants had been interned, and many had been subjected to forced labor, forced marches, personal injuries, rape, or public execution. Although Guamanians received limited compensation immediately after the war, the restrictive procedures, narrow window for recovery, and incomplete range of compensable injuries left too many under-compensated. As the Commission concluded, their claims were not treated comparably to U.S. citizens or nationals of other territories who suffered disproportionate hardships during World War II. The bill would remedy that decades-old injustice.

The bill I support has four components.

1. It would recognize the injuries endured by the people of Guam during the occupation and their steadfast loyalty to the United States.
2. It would compensate Guam's residents for specific harms.
3. It would authorize a grant program for research, educational, and media activities to memorialize the occupation of Guam.
4. It would authorize $130 million for the grant program and compensation.

The legislation is particularly timely in light of the agreement between the United States and Japan to relocate the headquarters of the III Marine Expeditionary Force and 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. As a result of the move, Guam will play an even more vital role as a U.S. military staging area to the Asian theater than it has in the past. The U.S. citizens of Guam deserve to know that their assistance in the nation's defense will be accompanied by a robust commitment to protect the island and compensate its residents fairly for any harm they may suffer.

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