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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 1 - 7  > JCP Kokuta criticizes gov’t for having SDF ship stay in Middle East without coronavirus preparation
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2020 April 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

JCP Kokuta criticizes gov’t for having SDF ship stay in Middle East without coronavirus preparation

April 4, 2020

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kokuta Keiji on April 3 in a Diet meeting criticized the Defense Ministry for failing to equip a Self-Defense Force ship sent to the Middle East with PCR testing kits with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Grilled by Kokuta in the meeting of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Defense Ministry Parliamentary Vice Minister Watanabe Koichi argued that on the SDF escort ship “Takanami” which is currently operating in the Middle East, no crewmember is infected with or suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. At the same time, however, he admitted that the SDF vessel does not carry equipment necessary to detect infections, such as PCR testing kits.

Kokuta said that it is totally unreasonable and irresponsible to assume that the ship is free from the virus without any scientific evidence. He stressed that given that many of those who are tested positive for COVID-19 show no symptoms, checking for the virus is essential.

Stating that on a U.S. nuclear-powered vessel, more than 100 cases were reported, Kokuta said, “On the SDF vessel as well, a large number of SDF members are working in a limited amount of space. One infection will endanger the lives of all on the ship.” Kokuta insisted that the government should be held responsible for sending the SDF ship to the Middle East without taking appropriate infection prevention measures.

Past related article:
> MSDF destroyer Takanami leaves for Middle East [February 3, 2020]
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