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Covid groups in Japan ask US troops to limit movement

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US troops in Japan: US bases in other parts of Japan have reported a surge in infections in recent weeks.

Tokyo:

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi urged his US counterpart on Thursday to consider restricting US military movement into the country following a surge in COVID cases at bases and surrounding communities.

The request for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken comes as virus cases surge in Okinawa, which hosts most US forces in Japan and is now seeing a surge in community infections.

The region’s governor has attributed the rise in local cases to clusters first seen among US troops.

Okinawa will request that the central government authorize new virus restrictions, its governor said, after the South Island region reported 623 cases on Wednesday – nearly three times the previous day’s figure.

In a call with Blinken, Hayashi “strongly requested the strengthening of measures to prevent an expansion in infections”, Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement said Hayashi called on Blinken to “consider restricting outings (by US troops) to reduce concerns among local residents given the state of coronavirus infections among US forces in Japan”. .

Japan’s government said on Wednesday that as of January 4, more than 400 Covid cases were registered at US bases in Okinawa.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has criticized the US military for failing to comply with Japan’s strict measures for foreign arrivals, and last month Hayashi “tightened” the US military commander in Japan over the rising number of virus cases. sorry” expressed.

Hayashi then said that the US military was not following Japan’s policy of testing for the virus upon arrival of the arriving passengers, and that they were required to quarantine for two weeks.

Since the complaint, US troops are now being tested within 24 hours of arrival, according to the Japanese government.

Infections among US force members are not included in Okinawa’s daily case report, although there are cases for local Japanese employees at US bases.

US bases in other parts of Japan have also reported a surge in infections in recent weeks.

Overall, Japan’s infection rate remains relatively low, with just over 2,600 cases reported across the country on Wednesday. But the numbers are rising, and on Wednesday Japan has reported more than 2,000 cases for the first time since October.

The State Department said Blinken acknowledged Hayashi’s concerns and promised to take them to the US Department of Defense.

The ministry said Hayashi and Blinken “reaffirmed the continued close Japan-US cooperation” on North Korea and Ukraine issues.

“Blinken condemns (North Korea)’s ballistic missile launch and emphasizes the US commitment to the defense of Japan,” the US State Department said in a statement.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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