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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 13 - 19  > Despite ongoing coronavirus crisis, US military-chartered aircraft regularly arrive at US bases in Japan
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2020 May 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

Despite ongoing coronavirus crisis, US military-chartered aircraft regularly arrive at US bases in Japan

May 14, 2020
Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kokuta Keiji on May 13 at a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting revealed that U.S. military-chartered aircraft regularly land at U.S. military bases in Japan.

Kokuta, based on documents of Air Mobility Command, said that U.S. military-charted aircraft flew to four U.S. bases in Japan 86 times in total from the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, and Guam between March 13 and May 12 after the U.S. Department of Defense implemented travel restrictions overseas on March 13. During the period between April 3 and May 12 alone, 58 flights landed at the four bases, including the Yokota Base in Tokyo and the Kadena Base in Okinawa although the Japanese government banned flights from the U.S. on April 3. In addition, another 14 flights are planned for the rest of this month.

Kokuta stressed that such a loophole in anti-coronavirus measures is left unaddressed because the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement exempts uniformed and civilian personnel of the U.S. military and their families from regulations in Japan’s Immigration Control Act. He criticized the Abe government by saying that it is willfully “leaving the backdoor open”.

In response, Foreign Ministry officials admitted that U.S. military-chartered airplanes routinely arrive at U.S. bases in Japan and that U.S. military personnel are not included in Japan’s coronavirus-related travel ban.

Furthermore, Kokuta urged the government to explain what kind of quarantine measures are taken in U.S. bases in Japan and the PCR testing capacity for the coronavirus at the bases. A Defense Ministry official said that it does not obtain such data from the U.S. military and insists that this is not a problem.

Kokuta stressed that as long as the Abe government maintains its highly submissive stance toward the U.S. military, it cannot fully protect Japanese people’s lives and safety.
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