Tokyo governor says she will not look for virus restrictions just yet
(Bloomberg) – Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi urged the United States to impose restrictions on troops stationed in Japan amid outbreaks of viruses believed to originate from bases, which have strained allied ties.
In a phone conversation Thursday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Hayashi called for tougher virus measures, including limits on off-base excursions, to ease anxiety among locals, a statement said. published by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Blinken responded that the health and safety of the local population was extremely important and said he would pass the message on to the Department of Defense, the ministry said.
A separate declaration of The State Department, however, only mentioned the two “expressed their shared commitment to fight and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” not to mention the infections that are part of an increase in cases after. months at low levels.
U.S. forces in Japan said in a statement after the call that mitigation efforts would be stepped up for all military installations across the country.
Peaceful Japan relies heavily on its only treaty ally, the United States, for national security, but local communities have long complained about crime, pollution and accidents associated with military bases. The spread of the virus adds a new puzzle to the alliance.
The Japanese government plans to introduce restrictions to control the virus in Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures, state broadcaster NHK said. Okinawa, where the first cases of the omicron variant were linked to a U.S. military base, expects around 900 cases on Thursday, Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters, up from around 50 a few days ago. Yamaguchi, which is also home to a US Navy base, has its worst numbers since August.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was due to meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday about the virus wave. Koike had said Wednesday evening that she had no plans at this point to ask the national government to introduce a near-emergency in the capital over the coronavirus.
Japanese capital confirmed 390 case Wednesday, against 76 a week earlier.