US military base in Japan has become a”loophole”

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According to Japan Kyodo News, the number of people infected with new coronavirus has increased dramatically at the US military base in Okinawa prefecture in Japan. As of the 13th, the total number of diagnoses has risen to 98, involving the Futenma Base, Hansen Camp and Mugang Supply Zone.

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The Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan, taken in October 2015. (Source:Xinhua News Agency)

Analysts pointed out that the U.S. troops stationed in Japan entered and exited Japan”freely”, which prevented Okinawa from grasping first-hand information about the infections of personnel in U.S. military bases. Therefore, US military bases in Japan have become a major loophole in Japanese epidemic prevention.

The Japanese Cabinet Chief Suga Yoshihide said on the 13th that he was sharing information about the confirmed soldiers with the United States Activities and other information, and will properly cooperate with the US side on this matter.

U.S. military gatherings caused an epidemic

According to reports, the U.S. military stationed in Japan around July 4th Relevant personnel held a gathering of thousands of people in the Okinawa base, and went to the entertainment venues and beaches outside the base in droves. Analysis believes that it is these large-scale gatherings that led to this clustered infection.

Okinawa Governor Jade City Danny on the 11th and US Marine Corps Stasi, Commander of the Third Expeditionary Army Cladi called to ask the US military to raise its epidemic prevention measures to the highest level, suspend the dispatch of personnel from the U.S. mainland to Okinawa, blockade relevant US military bases in Japan, and increase transparency in epidemic information.

It is reported that the US military has closed the two bases of Putianma and Hansen Battalion.

U.S. military privileges and no choice

Since the outbreak, Japan has listed the United States as a “prohibited”Entry countries”, but US troops stationed in Japan can enter and leave Japan freely, without having to be tested by Japan’s new coronavirus, and all US military epidemic prevention measures are not controlled by Japan.

At first, the US side was reluctant to disclose the number of confirmed cases and whereabouts of the confirmed cases of US military personnel stationed in Japan. Later, after repeated requests from the Japanese side, it had to publish relevant information. The reason for this situation is the”Japan-US Status Agreement” signed between Japan and the United States in 1960.

According to this agreement, the US military stationed in Japan enjoys a special status in Japan:without the US military’s consent, the Japanese side does not have the right to search, seize, and verify US military assets; the criminal jurisdiction of the US military stationed in Japan and the families of military personnel belongs to the US side. All; US troops stationed in Japan also enjoy preferential treatment such as tax exemption. Despite constant opposition from Okinawa, the agreement has continued to this day.

Okinawa residents are bitter for a long time

It is reported that more than half of the approximately 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan are stationed in Okinawa. For a long time, residents of Okinawa have complained a lot about the crimes caused by the US military bases in Japan. The outbreak of the cluster epidemic has exacerbated their dissatisfaction. An Okinawa resident said:“During the epidemic, seeing American soldiers wearing masks on the street is really worried.”

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In the face of the epidemic of US troops stationed in Japan, Okinawa County Governor Yucheng Danny said:”When Okinawa residents unite to prevent the epidemic, it is regrettable that the US military personnel have multiple infections in a short period of time. People have to strongly doubt the US’s previous epidemic prevention measures.”

An Okinawa official pointed out that what is more worrying now is that due to insufficient space inside the US military base in Japan, US military personnel who are currently switching from the US mainland are undergoing epidemic isolation at a local hotel outside the base. This move triggered strong dissatisfaction from the Japanese side. The Japanese side believed that the US military should be isolated in the base, but the US military ignored it, and even the specific number of people isolated in the hotel was not disclosed.

Producer:Wei Jing

Editor:Jin Jin

Review:Zhao Yujing

Editor:Hou Jiahui

Source:Xinhuanet Global Times Zhongxin.com