Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said today that Japan and the United States had reached a “basic agreement” not to allow members of the US military contingent to leave their bases in Japan, due to growing concerns about the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
Kishida said that American soldiers will not leave their bases “except when it is absolutely necessary”, which means in emergency situations or for some other security reasons, reports AP.
Details of the agreement are still being worked out, Kishida said in an interview with Fuji TV and confirmed that the alliance between the United States and Japan remains unchanged.
The number of new cases in Japan jumped to more than 8,000 yesterday, which is a four-month record, and medical experts estimate that the “sixth wave of the epidemic” has occurred.
The US military is blamed for the increase in the number of newly infected because the largest number of new cases was recorded near military bases, which is why the Japanese government last week asked the US to cooperate and keep US military personnel in bases.
A spokesman for U.S. forces in Japan was not immediately available to comment on Kishida’s latest statements, however, Major Thomas R. Barger said epidemic trends are being closely monitored in Japan.
Okinawa, the southwestern group of the island on which the majority of 55,000 American soldiers in Japan are located, is one of the three prefectures in which new restrictions are in force as of today to suppress the spread of the virus, Tanjug reported.