Taro Kono, Defence Minister of Japan, has sought the United States to carry out COVID-19 tests of all US military personnel traveling to Japan as the coronavirus ravaged several US bases in Okinawa. The Defence Ministry has urged that US Military personnel arriving in Japan undergo one test prior to their departure from the US and another after arriving in Japan.
Kono added, "With so many asymptomatic people, PCR testing is a must." He also said that tests must be conducted, without fail, on military personnel before departing from the US and entering Japan.
US Considers Japan's Request
The Defence Minister further added that the US side has considered the request. Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has also asked the US to clarify whether or not they are taking the necessary virus prevention measures while based in Okinawa, including two-week quarantine measures where it is necessary.
Tamaki has also called for the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to be reviewed as US military personnel are exempted from Japan's quarantine rules and travel bans.
Cases Reported on US Military Bases In Japan
On Thursday, the US Marine Corps Camp Hansen in Okinawa reported 58 new coronavirus cases, the Okinawa prefectural government said, while 73 cases have been linked to US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, an additional five were confirmed at Kadena Air Base, and one each at Camp McTureous and Camp Kinser, officials said.
The total number of COVID-19 cases at US military bases in Okinawa stood at 138 on Thursday, the prefectural government said, adding that amid fears of the virus spreading to the local population, an elderly taxi driver had tested positive for the virus.
(With inputs from agencies)