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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 27 - February 2  > Japan Peace Committee urges Foreign Ministry to ban entry of US military personnel during state of emergency
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2021 January 27 - February 2 [POLITICS]

Japan Peace Committee urges Foreign Ministry to ban entry of US military personnel during state of emergency

January 29, 2021
The Japan Peace Committee on January 28 made representations to the Foreign Ministry, demanding a halt to new entries of U.S. military personnel, civilian personnel, and their families during the state of emergency as part of measures to prevent a further spread of COVID-19 infections in Japan.

Since the declaration of a state of emergency, the Japanese government has suspended entries of business travelers from 11 countries and regions, but excluded U.S. military personnel from this measure.

However, the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture, where the state of emergency declaration has been issued, recently confirmed 270 COVID-19 cases. Not only in Kanagawa but also among all U.S. forces stationed in Japan cases have been reported.

In the petitioning, JPC Secretary General Chisaka Jun pointed out that in areas where U.S. bases are located, these bases may be one of the factors increasing coronavirus infection cases. He demanded that the Japanese government prohibit new entries of U.S. military servicemen, civilian workers, and their families into Japan; examine anti-coronavirus measures taken within U.S. bases in Japan; and urge the U.S. forces in Japan to disclose information regarding infection cases.

In this action, people living in municipalities which host U.S. bases took part via web conferencing apps. A Yokosuka citizen living near the U.S. Yokosuka base in Kanawaga said, “There is much concern that 700 maintenance staff are scheduled to arrive from the U.S. mainland at the Yokosuka base for the regular maintenance check-up of the nuclear-powered vessel. In this regard, the Foreign Ministry promises to prepare for the arrival of the 700 staff. However, I have serious reservations about the ministry's pronouncement.” A resident of Hamura City which hosts the U.S. Yokota Air Base argued, “The rate of COVID-19 infections per capita in the Yokota base is five times higher than that in the city. With many military aircraft flying from overseas to the base, Hamura citizens are concerned about the risk of transmission of the coronavirus through U.S. military personnel to off-base locations.” A citizen living near the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture pointed out, “After a carrier-borne aircraft unit returned to the Iwakuni base last November, Iwakuni City faced a surge in new COVID-19 cases, which aroused suspicion among Iwakuni citizens that U.S. personnel stationed at the base may have brought the infection to the city.”

A Foreign Ministry official said that as the ministry learned of concerns over the infections from residents living near U.S. bases, it will again request the U.S. military to make its anti-coronavirus measures on their bases in Japan more rigid.

Past related articles:
> PM Suga bans entry of business-visa holders as demanded by JCP[January 14, 2021]
> US forces in Okinawa report record COVID-19 cases, but refuse to disclose quarantine locations [December 1, 2020]
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