U.S. bases in Japan will be subject to stricter COVID-19 controls

The United States has agreed to impose stricter COVID-19 measures on US military bases in Japan, a joint US-Japan statement said on Sunday, fearing that outbreaks at the bases could fuel infection in communities local.

For two weeks starting Monday, movement of U.S. forces personnel outside of the base’s facilities will be limited to essential activities, the joint statement from the Japanese government and U.S. forces in Japan said. Denny Tamaki, governor of the island of Okinawa in southern Japan, which hosts much of the US bases in Japan, said this month he was “furious” at what he called controls inadequate infections at US bases that allowed the Omicron variant to spread to the public.

“The United States and Japan are committed to working together to protect the health of the Japanese people and the American military,” the joint statement read. U.S. forces in Japan already have a mandatory masking policy in place for all personnel, the statement also said.

The deal comes after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during his earlier television appearance that the United States had agreed to impose stricter COVID-19 measures and details were being worked out. The joint statement also follows a virtual meeting on Friday of the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries to discuss security issues.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told the meeting anxiety was spreading among local residents over growing coronavirus infections in and around US bases, and called for swift implementation of countermeasures . Japan reintroduced coronavirus restrictions in three regions that host US military bases on Sunday, the first such emergency checks since September.

The Japanese government halted the entry of almost all foreign travelers in late November after the World Health Organization listed Omicron as a variant of concern. But the US military has brought in and out personnel under a separate testing and quarantine regime.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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