Jan 9, 2022 - World

U.S. agrees to keep soldiers on base amid COVID surge in Japan

The U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan.

An aerial view of U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan. Photo: Jinhee Lee/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Japan and the U.S. have reached a "basic agreement" to prohibit U.S. soldiers from leaving their bases in an effort to contain a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement comes days after Japan's foreign minister asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to urge the Defense Department to implement stronger restrictions on bases to curtail the virus' spread in areas with a considerable U.S. military presence.

  • Last week, U.S. Forces Japan implemented several preventative measures for all military installations in Japan, including a mask mandate, testing personnel upon arrival and restricting movement until testing negative.
  • U.S soldiers are expected to remain on base "except when absolutely necessary," according to AP. Details of the agreement are not finalized.

The big picture: Okinawa, home to several U.S. military facilities, reported at least 981 new COVID cases last week. Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki alleged American soldiers were responsible for the uptick in infections.

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