Restrictions on U.S. troops in Japan likely to be extended

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. military personnel are seen near the gates of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen in Kin, Okinawa Prefecture, on Jan. 10.

COVID-19 measures that have been in place for U.S. military personnel in Japan have been extended by one week, U.S. Forces Japan announced Friday.

A surge in coronavirus cases on U.S. bases prompted the Japanese and U.S. governments to discuss extending the restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Restrictions have been in place since Jan. 10 and were scheduled to expire Sunday. The restrictions will now continue until the end of the month.

Quasi-emergency measures are being applied in Tokyo and 12 other prefectures until Feb. 13.

Measures already in place for Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa prefectures, currently scheduled to expire at the end of this month, are expected to be extended through Feb. 13.

On Jan. 9, the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee issued a statement that included measures to restrict U.S. military personnel in Japan from leaving their bases unnecessarily, in response to a Japanese government request to the U.S. side to strengthen restrictions.

The joint statement reaffirmed that it is mandatory for U.S. military personnel to wear masks on and off bases, and that testing is being conducted when troops enter and leave Japan. However, infections have continued to surge.

According to the Japanese government, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases detected at U.S. bases in Japan increased from 3,638 on Jan. 10 to 6,350 on Wednesday.