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Two US Bases on Okinawa Locked Down Over Coronavirus Spike

Two US Bases on Okinawa Locked Down Over Coronavirus Spike
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By Staff, Agencies

Two US Marine bases in Japan’s Okinawa have been put into lockdown after dozens of coronavirus infections, with local officials criticizing the American military’s containment efforts.

There are tens of thousands of US servicemen stationed on the southern Japanese island, which has recorded roughly 150 civilian COVID-19 infections.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Monday that 62 cases have been detected in recent days in US forces, most of them at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen.

The spike in infections has created tensions with local officials, including Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki.

In response to the outbreak, almost all off-base travel was halted from Sunday, according to guidelines posted on the Marine Corps Installation Pacific Facebook page.

Marine Corps service members, dependents, and civilians can move freely on the base but require permission to leave, including for medical appointments.

“Those orders are in place until further notice and limit base access and operations to essential personnel,” the force said in a separate post, AFP reported.

The post did not specify which bases were affected and US military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

An Okinawa official said the prefecture had been informed that the order applied to only Futenma and Camp Hansen.

He added that the number of forces on the bases is not disclosed for “security reasons.”

The US military presence on the island is a longstanding sore spot, with many in the region arguing they bear a disproportionate share of the burden of hosting American forces.

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