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Tokyo addresses anger over US bases

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida claimed to have come to an agreement with the United States that US troops stationed in Japan should avoid unnecessary outings after they were accused of spreading Covid-19 to locals.

Kishida told the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) on Sunday that the government had “agreed with the United States in principle that unnecessary outings should be controlled and prohibited, and we are discussing specifics now.”

The Japanese government formally requested its US counterpart to ground troops to their bases on Thursday after the country had to reimplement Covid-19 restrictions in several regions near American facilities.

The alleged transmission of Covid-19 from American soldiers to Japanese locals has caused anger in Japan, with many upset that the troops have not been held to strict protocols aimed at keeping the coronavirus at bay.

Last month, 227 people at the US Marine base Camp Hansen in Okinawa Prefecture tested positive for Covid-19. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi protested at the time that the coronavirus rules on the base were “not consistent with the Japanese rules” and he expressed “strong regret” to US Forces Japan Commander Ricky Rupp.

This week, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki complained that “a major cause of the spread of the Omicron variant is infections coming from U.S. military bases.”

The governors of Hiroshima and Yamaguchi have also protested the situation on US bases.

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