Dozens of US Marines in Japan's Okinawa get coronavirus

MARI YAMAGUCHI

TOKYO (AP) — Dozens of U.S. Marines at two bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa have been infected with the coronavirus in what is feared to be a massive outbreak, Okinawa's governor said Saturday, demanding an adequate explanation from the U.S. military.

Gov. Denny Tamaki said he could say only that a “few dozen” cases had been found recently because the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not be released. The outbreaks occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and Camp Hansen, Tamaki said.

Local media, citing unnamed sources, said about 60 people had been infected.

“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told (by the U.S. military),” Tamaki told a news conference. “We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease prevention measures.”

Tamaki demanded transparency in the latest development and said he planned to request talks between the U.S. military and Okinawan officials. He said Okinawan officials also asked the Japanese government to demand that the U.S. provide details including the number of cases, seal off Futenma and Camp Hansen, and step up preventive measures on base.

Okinawan officials made similar requests to the U.S. military on Friday in order to address local residents' concerns, Tamaki said.

The Marines said in a statement Friday that the troops were taking additional protective measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus and were restricting off-base activities. The statement said measures are “to protect our forces, our families, and the local community,” without providing details on the infections.

The Marines did not immediately respond Saturday to an Associated Press inquiry about the latest outbreak.

Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact, and the residents are sensitive to U.S. base-related problems. Many Okinawans have long complained about pollution, noise and crime related to U.S. bases.

Okinawans also oppose a planned relocation of the Futenma air base from the current site in a densely populated area in the south to a less populated area on the east coast.

Local media reported that the Okinawan assembly adopted a resolution Friday protesting the U.S. military's lack of transparency about its outbreak on base.

Okinawa has about 150 cases of the coronavirus. In all, Japan has about 21,000 cases and 1,000 deaths, with Tokyo reporting more than 200 new cases for a third straight day Saturday.

___

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

More From

  • Paris Marathon canceled after coronavirus hits travel plans

    The Paris Marathon has been canceled because of the coronavirus after repeated attempts to find a new date, organizers said Wednesday. Organizers said they'd recently tried to rearrange the race for November but continuing travel restrictions made that unrealistic. ''Faced with the difficulty that many runners, especially those coming from abroad, had in making themselves available for the 14th / 15th November, it was decided that it would be better and simpler for those concerned if we organized the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris in 2021,'' organizers said in a statement.

  • 3 killed in southern India in clashes over Facebook post

    At least three people were killed in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru when police clashed with hundreds of Muslims who attacked a police station and set fire to vehicles during a protest over a Facebook post considered offensive to Islam, police said Wednesday. Senior police officer Kamal Pant said the protesters burned public and police vehicles and attacked the house of a local politician whose relative was accused of posting remarks online reportedly involving the Prophet Muhammad. “Three people died in the police action and more than 110 people have been arrested for attacking the police station,” Pant said.

  • Gayle King: 'I love radio so much'

    Gayle King reveals why she returned to radio with her new show "Gayle King In the House" on SiriusXM and what topics listeners want to discuss during these times of crises. (Aug.12)

  • Turkish ship starts energy search amid standoff with Greece

    A Turkish seismic research vessel has begun surveying for energy resources in contested areas of the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's energy minister said Wednesday, amid an escalation of tensions between rivals Greece and Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights. Turkey's seismic surveying ship, Oruc Reis, was “taking the x-ray of our seas,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Twitter. Turkey dispatched the Orus Reis and two support vessels to undertake seismic research for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean in an area Greece says is on its continental shelf.