Japan govt restricts Saipan visits


Another fallout in the ongoing threat of North Korea to shoot a missile near Guam is that the Japanese government appears to be reining in travel to anywhere near the U.S. territory.

Some 57 students were set to travel to Saipan through an exchange program offered by the Saipan Mayor’s Office, but that plan got cancelled yesterday because of the order from the Japanese government.

The students from the Johoku All-Boys High School in Hiroshima have travelled to Saipan every year since 2014. That exchange program had allowed hundreds of Japanese students to visit the island and experience its beauty.

According to exchange student program coordinator Yuuki Kishimoto, the students were set to arrive on Saipan on Oct. 17 and were organized to stay with host families.

Yesterday, Kishimoto received word from program coordinator Ikuo Yoshizawa, who arranges the program on Saipan, that they are mandated to cancel their trip to Saipan.

That cancellation is being blamed on the active nuclear testing of North Korea. It is for the students’ safety that the government restricts all flights to Saipan and areas near Guam, Kishimoto said.

Many host families were ready for the arrival of their host students, but because of the issues with North Korea, Kishimoto has started to call each family up with the news.

According to the Kishimoto, Yoshizawa informed her that it is beyond their control.

“They are very regretful for the cancellation but it is something beyond their control,” she said.

Although their trip was cancelled, Yoshizawa and the students still greatly appreciate the continued support of the Saipan mayor and the host families who were preparing for their visit this year, Kishimoto said.

In a previous interview, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said he is not worried about North Korea.

Apatang believes that North Korea will not push through with harming anyone, as China will not back North Korea if it deliberately harms the United States.

He also believes the United States will not allow North Korea to harm the country and its territories. “The United States is the most powerful country in the world…it would be like waking up a sleeping giant,” he said.

Apatang hopes for the best and for peace to prevail.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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