THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Japanese authorities are questioning the measures Unites States military personnel are taking to quell the spread of coronavirus after dozens of Marines stationed in Okinawa tested positive for coronavirus. These new outbreaks have been largely attributed to 4th of July parties allegedly held by Marines on and off bases. U.S. officials are now working to trace who participated in events where the virus was found in order to quell the spread before it gets out of control.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki stated that locals were “shocked” at the news of the outbreak in the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen, adding, “We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease prevention measures.” The Marines reported 94 new cases in a region that had previously seen 148 cases in total before the new centralized outbreak. Strict prevention measures have since been implemented on all 33 of its installations in the area, which house roughly 20,000 personnel total.
This situation may have partially contributed to heightening tensions between Japanese officials, locals, and U.S. military personnel in the area. In 2018, a Marine stationed at Okinawa based Camp Kinser killed a 61-year-old Japanese man in a drunk-driving incident, which led to some local anti-military protests and prompted the Marine base to impose a temporary ban on alcohol on the bases and enact a strict curfew policy.
New Coronavirus safety guidance shared on Twitter by III MEF Marines / Okinawa, Japan / July 11, 2020
‘Few dozen’ US Marines get coronavirus on Japan’s Okinawa, official says – Fox News – 7/12/2020
The Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) based in Okinawa posted a message to Twitter Saturday regarding the outbreak, detailing the measures being taken to limit the spread of the disease. “In light of recent clusters of positive COVID-19 cases on Okinawa, Marine Forces Japan has implemented additional HPCON measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the tweet read. “These measures have been put into place to protect our forces, our families, and our local communities.”
Japanese governor demands U.S. military meeting after coronavirus outbreak in Okinawa bases – NBC News – 7/11/2020
“We have also received reports that people linked to the U.S. military have ventured out into the downtown area or participated in beach parties before and after the July 4th celebrations,” Tamaki added, urging those who had attended such gatherings to call a hotline number to be tracked and traced.
U.S. bases in Japan locked down as coronavirus outbreak blamed on July 4th parties – CBS News – 7/13/2020
More than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based in Okinawa. Three U.S. bases in Okinawa have confirmed infections: U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Camp Hansen and Camp Kinser, stretching along a 25-mile swath on the island’s southern half. […] Local reports say Fourth of July parties held both on and off the bases — attended by hundreds if not thousands of personnel and employees – are at the root of the new outbreak.
Japan Governor Demands Increased COVID-19 Prevention Measures After 61 U.S. Marines Infected on Okinawa – Time – 7/12/2020
“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told (by the U.S. military),” Tamaki told a news conference Saturday. “It is extremely regrettable that the infections are rapidly spreading among U.S. personnel when we Okinawans are doing our utmost to contain the infections. We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease prevention measures,” he added.
Ivan Watson on Twitter, 7/13/2020: “I am shocked,” says Denny Tamaki, governor of Okinawa, after he says a “large number” of US Marines based on the Japanese island test positive for coronavirus. “I cannot help but have doubts about the kind of infection prevention measures the US has been taking until now.”
Vladamir Duthiers on Twitter, 7/13/2020: Marines reported 94 new cases on Okinawa, an island that had seen just 148 other infections. Officials believe virus may have spread when “U.S. Forces personnel went out to the nightlife districts & had beach parties outside of the bases on July 4,..”