Police are kicking the prostitutes out of Garapan and they are stepping up their crackdown before the emperor’s media entourage goes sightseeing. To do this law enforcement officials in Saipan are stepping up efforts to enforce Public Law 14-50 the anti-loitering law.

While the governor’s office said efforts have been ongoing since the beginning of June the action will move prostitutes and displaced female Chinese garment workers who have been soliciting out of Garapan in a timely fashion before the arrival of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan on June 27 and 28.

Lynn A. Knight general manager of Century Hotel and president of the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands told the Journal “I’m quite glad that our government has put in place some new laws that will help with enforcement. We didn’t have laws in place that were able to take care of the loitering issue. Now because of the imperial visit we are trying even harder. We realize there will be a lot of visitors to the island and we don’t want our visitors to be bothered and solicited.” She said Saipan was entering a peak visitor period with the imperial visit followed by the July 2 to 4 Liberation Day weekend. “There will be a lot of visitors coming in for that and we want it to be pleasant for everyone.”

Loitering and solicitation is not unique to Saipan Knight said. “Yes we have a problem but it is pretty much confined to one area — not all over the island as some media have made it sound. It is something that we feel is important not only to the tourism industry but also to the local community — that we get this problem taken care of and we support any and all efforts to clean it up.”

Peter A. Callaghan spokesman for Gov. Juan N. Babauta said “That’s something the governor and lieutenant governor decided to do before they knew the emperor and empress coming. I expect it will continue long after [the] emperor [is] gone.”

However while there was no indication that the stepup in enforcement of the loitering law was in preparation for the imperial visit the office of the attorney general issued a statement on June 20 stating that enforcement would start. The statement said “Beginning immediately the office of the attorney general and the Department of Public Safety intends to aggressively enforce Public Law 14-50.”

Callaghan said the attorney general’s office was also involved in moves to curb solicitation outside bars. Saipan’s visitors to Garapan have long been greeted by heavily made-up skimpily dressed hostesses outside bars. “The attorney general’s office has tied this to business license renewal to ensure employees stay within the premises and not outside.” Callaghan said business licenses were renewed annually so enforcement would be ongoing. “It will be enforced. If a business violates that regulation the license will not be renewed.”

While the imperial couple is unlikely to be solicited on a stroll through Garapan approximately 200 members of the media will arrive early to cover the visit as will a number of U.S. and Japanese officials.

The imperial couple and the Japanese entourage of about 50 personnel including an imperial palace chef will be housed at the Nikko Hotel Saipan in San Roque a comfortable distance from Garapan. Media however and the Japanese and English language media centers will be located at the Dai-Ichi Hotel Saipan Beach walking distance from Garapan’s nightlife. Non-beach rooms have a clear view of Garapan and the tourist district.

The Garapan DPS Koban normally has four officers assigned. That was increased to six at the beginning of June. Callaghan said the additional police presence was in response to the ongoing anti-loitering campaign not the imperial visit.

The anti-loitering law was introduced in April. Loitering is a misdemeanor with a maximum $1 000 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Police must physically see the loitering or soliciting to make arrests.

Eric David public information officer with the Northern Marianas Department of Public Safety told the Journal “Our prostitution law is weak so the loitering law was necessary to clean up the area.” He said there have been numerous operations since the anti-loitering law took effect in April to clean up the western Garapan area which resulted in five arrests. Three of those are Chinese women who have been deported. “There have been five arrests so far in the push to clean up Garapan.”

David said the prostitutes have been pushed out of the tourist district in western Garapan and are appearing now in the outskirts of Garapan.

The Department of Public Safety will meet June 21 with the U.S. Secret Service to plan security for the imperial visit the main purpose of which is to honor World War II dead.

David said Condoleezza Rice U.S. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might come to Saipan at the same time as the imperial couple. The most senior U.S. official presently scheduled to join VIPs for the visit is J. Thomas Schieffer U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The imperial couple is due to visit Banzai Cliff Suicide Cliff and lay wreaths during the visit. They will also visit a Saipan retirement center and meet with local officials including those representing Japanese organizations and companies. MBJ