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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 December 1 - 7  > Japan’s omicron-related ban on entry excludes US military personnel
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2021 December 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

Japan’s omicron-related ban on entry excludes US military personnel

December 1 & 2, 2021
The government on November 30 decided to ban foreigners from entering Japan due to the worldwide spread of the newest COVID-19 variant named omicron. However, it has come to light that this measure does not apply to U.S. military personnel.

Explaining the reason for this, the Foreign Ministry stated that under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the U.S. military in Japan is exempt from Japan’s domestic laws. On the other hand, the ministry claimed that the U.S. forces impose on their arriving personnel quarantine regulations similar to Japan’s, such as the prohibition of the use of public transport and a 14-day period of self-isolation.

However, the U.S. military’s entry and quarantine regulations are not strict enough as shown by the news coverage on October 30 that a U.S. military-related person who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at Narita Airport took a domestic flight to Okinawa.

In addition, COVID-19 cluster cases have frequently been reported at U.S. military installations across Japan, including the U.S. Yokosuka base which is the homeport of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and U.S. bases in Okinawa. This indicates that it is difficult for Japan to prevent the spread of infection from U.S. bases in Japan.

The Japan Peace Committee on December 1 sent to Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa a written request demanding that the latest entry ban apply also to U.S. military personnel.

The JPC in its document pointed out that as the U.S. military’s entry and quarantine regulations are implemented at their discretion, there is increasing concern over a possible spread of the omicron variant. It demanded that new entries of U.S. military personnel be barred for the time being and that the SOFA be revised drastically.
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