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Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki meets the press at the prefectural headquarters in Naha, southern Japan, on January 6, amid a recent spike in coronavirus infections.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki meets the press at the prefectural headquarters in Naha, southern Japan, on January 6, amid a recent spike in coronavirus infections. (Kyodo News/Getty Images)

The United States will bring in new measures on US military bases in light of the rise in Covid-19 cases, according to a Thursday press release from the United States Forces Japan (USFJ). 

The decision comes after heavy criticism by local governments over the handling of Covid transmission among military personnel in Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. Earlier this week, the governor of Okinawa — which is home to several American bases — blasted the US military for failing to contain the spread of the Omicron variant. 

“I’m outraged because the rise in the number of infected among US military personnel suggests that their management is not enough,” Denny Tamaki, Okinawa’s prefectural governor, said in a press conference Sunday. 

What’s changing: New restrictions will include a mandated mask wearing while off base regardless of vaccination status, and requiring Covid-19 tests prior to, upon arrival, and while in Japan. 

“The mitigation measures we have instituted throughout USFJ are intended to protect our force’s readiness, the well-being of our families, and the health of Japan’s citizens,” the statement said. “We recognize we all have a part to play in keeping our communities safe,” it continued. 

Some background: Japan has been experiencing an uptick in Covid-19 cases, particularly in Okinawa, where 623 new infections were reported on the island, Wednesday. This is a significant jump from the previous day’s 225.

Last year, two US Marine bases in Okinawa — including Camp Hansen — were put into lockdown and restrictions imposed at other bases in the region, according to Kyodo News.



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