Federal government moves to pay Guam war reparations

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The federal government is moving forward with plans to pay claims to as many as 5,000 Guam residents and estates on behalf of those who experienced atrocities during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II.

A Department of Justice commission is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to begin collecting information from residents related to the war claims. A notice in the Federal Register says the information will be used by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to decide claims for compensation, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2kENkOf) Monday.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December included reparations for those killed, injured or subjected to forced labor and other harmful acts by Japanese occupiers.

"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 war claims would be paid from the island's federal Section 30 funding, which 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.

Under the law, 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. Rape or severe personal injury could result in a $15,000 payment, while those subjected to forced labor could get $12,000 and those who endured internment could qualify for $10,000.