JAKARTADAILY.ID - The United States Forces Japan announced today that they had implemented tighter steps to combat the rising in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Three Japanese regions hosting U.S. military bases have requested quasi-emergency measures as Japan undergoes what some are calling its sixth wave of infections, with cases at their highest in months in some locations.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that a verdict on the quasi-emergency measures would be determined on Friday after discussions with experts.
Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi had already asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to prohibit U.S. service troops from leaving their bases, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
In late November, Japan barred practically all foreign visitors from entering the country after the World Health Organization identified Omicron as a potentially dangerous variant. The U.S. military, on the other hand, transfers personnel in and out under a different testing and quarantine arrangement. According to a Japanese official, the first Omicron variant in the region was transmitted by U.S. military personnel.
The southern province of Okinawa, which is home to 70 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan, is at the heart of the country's newest outbreak of cases. It had lobbied the central government on Thursday to start imposing restrictions, which were likely to include curtailing restaurant and bar operating hours.
Hiroshima and Yamaguchi, both of which host U.S military bases, announced they would apply similar measures. Various emergency regulations were enforced throughout most of Japan last year until they were lifted on September 30, 2021.