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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Victims’ Families Request No More Memorials On Guam
Visitors bureau chairman says relatives need time to heal

Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 21, 2013) – The families of the three Japanese tourists who were killed in last week's attack in Tumon appreciate the memorials held on Guam, a tourism official said, but they want the ceremonies and events to stop.

More memorials are planned locally, the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) has learned, but at this time, the families would like to grieve quietly.

"We have received information from several groups which are planning further memorial activities. While we sincerely appreciate their efforts -- the bereaved families are saying that they are sincerely appreciative, but are asking that no further activities be undertaken," said GVB Chairman Mark Baldyga.

"They need time to heal in peace and without the media (covering) yet more memorials reminding them of the incident daily."

He said the bereaved families follow a tradition in which a memorial is held on the 49th day after the death.

"We would respectfully request that any further memorial activities be focused on the 49th day anniversary, or the one-year anniversary of the incident," Baldyga said.

Focus on safety

The Visitors Bureau's office in Japan has informed the main office that focusing on safety would be the most important thing the island can provide to our visitors, Baldyga said.

Speaker Judith Won Pat and other senators are scheduled to present a resolution to the Japan Consulate on Guam, expressing "deepest regret to the victims and to the people of Japan for the loss of life and physical and emotional suffering resulting from an isolated and senseless criminal act in Guam's tourism capital."

On Feb. 12, 21-year-old Guam resident Chad De Soto allegedly drove a car into a group of tourists and then stabbed people in a tourist area in Tumon called "Pleasure Island." He's being held on a $3 million cash bail.

An 81-year-old grandmother, Kazuko Uehara, and her 28-year-old granddaughter, Rie Sugiyama, were killed. Both died at the scene of stab wounds. Sugiyama's 8-month-old daughter and 3-year-old daughter survived knife wounds. A third tourist, Hitoshi Yokota, 51, died of injuries after getting hit by the car, allegedly driven by De Soto.

2/12 Memorial Fund

The Visitors Bureau and stakeholders in the tourism industry have started a fund to help the victims.

"The people of Guam are a caring people," Baldyga said. "The outpouring of support and sympathy was greatly appreciated by the families of the victims, including the Mass of prayer and healing and all of the various efforts made on behalf of the victims and their families.

"One way to help is to donate to the 2/12 Memorial Fund. These funds will be used to assist the victims and their families directly and to help defray their expenses," Baldyga said. "We would simply ask that the public keep the victims and their families in their hearts and in their prayers."

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