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Tokyo asks US to impose curfew on its military bases in Japan to contain virus

US military bases in Japan see mass coronavirus infections, causing fear among local people

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 06.01.2022
Tokyo asks US to impose curfew on its military bases in Japan to contain virus

ISTANBUL

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases at the US military bases in the country, Japan has asked Washington to follow Japan’s anti-virus measures and impose curfew on the bases to stem the spread of the infection, local media reported.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters on Thursday he has asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “impose curfews on US bases in Japan” after mass coronavirus infections were reported among the American military personnel.

Hayashi and Blinken held a telephone call to discuss the pandemic and regional issues.

The Japanese foreign minister said he “requested” Blinken that Washington should take “thorough measures to prevent the virus from spreading further to address growing fears among local residents around US bases,” according to Kyodo News.

Japan reported 2,638 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest in over three months.

Japanese provinces hosting the US military bases, including Okinawa and Yamaguchi, have seen clusters of virus cases at the American military facilities as Japan grapples with the spread of omicron variant.

“Washington will do everything it can by working together with Tokyo to curb the virus spread,” said Hayashi, quoting Blinken.

The US has around 50,000 forces deployed in Japan under a bilateral defense treaty.

The talks, held at the request of Blinken, came as new COVID-19 cases have been rising in the prefectures hosting the US military bases.

Japan has so far reported over 1.7 million COVID-19 cases, including 18,398 deaths.

'Superspreaders of COVID-19'

Noting the cluster infections in the US military bases in Japan, China took a dig at Washington, saying it was "not an isolated incident."

"Clusters of cases in US military bases overseas have posed severe threats to local people’s life and health," Wang Wenbin, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday, adding similar cases were found in South Korea and Germany.

"US soldiers stationed overseas have overridden laws of host countries, defied and disobeyed local anti-pandemic protocols in disregard of local people’s life, health and right to public health," Wang alleged.

"Time and again they have become COVID-19 'superspreaders' across the world. How ironic it is when the US claims to be 'leading global COVID-19 response'," he said.

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