© Provided by the Associated Press
File photo taken Jan. 27, 2018, of the United States Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, in Ginowan, on the Japanese island of Okinawa. (Kyodo News via AP, File)
TOKYO (AP) – Dozens of US Marines at two military bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa contracted the coronavirus in what is feared to have been a massive outbreak, the Okinawa Governor, who demanded a proper explanation from the US military, said Saturday. . According to local media, which cited unidentified sources, about 60 people had been infected.
Governor Denny Tamaki said « dozens » of cases were recently detected and that the US military asked that the exact number not be disclosed. The outbreaks occurred at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and at Camp Hansen, Tamaki said.
« Okinawans are shocked by what they told us, » Tamaki said at a press conference referring to the US military. « We now have strong doubts that the United States Army has taken adequate disease prevention measures. »
Tamaki demanded transparency about the outbreak and said he planned to request talks between the US military and Okinawa officials. He said Okinawa officials have also asked the Japanese government to require the United States to provide details, including the number of cases, to seal both bases, and to step up preventive measures.
The Marines said in a statement Friday that they were taking additional protective measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and that they were restricting off-base activities. The statement says the measures are « to protect our forces, our families and the local community, » without providing details about the infections.
The Marines did not immediately respond Saturday to a query by The Associated Press about the latest outbreak.
Okinawa is home to more than half of the approximately 50,000 US soldiers settled in Japan under a bilateral security pact, and many residents have long complained about problems with US bases, such as pollution, noise, and cases of delinquency.
Mari Yamaguchi is at: //www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi