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Okinawa governor calls on US to lock down bases and show transparency over Covid outbreaks

OKINAWA Governor Denny Tamaki called on the US military to seal off its bases on the island and be more transparent about infection levels after they reported 61 Covid-19 cases among marines.

“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told” at a call with US commanders, Mr Tamaki declared. “It is extremely regrettable that the infections are rapidly spreading among US personnel when we Okinawans are doing our utmost to contain the infections.

“We now have strong doubts that the US military has taken adequate disease prevention measures,” he added.

Island authorities are calling on Tokyo to demand the US provide details on Covid-19 cases among the 50,000 troops Washington stations in Japan, half of whom are based on Okinawa.

The US said it has put its Okinawa bases into lockdown and had isolated the infected individuals, 38 of whom are at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and 23 at Camp Hansen.

But Mr Tamaki called on it to halt all troop transfers and staff relocations. The governor was elected on a platform of preventing the US from replacing its Futenma base with a new camp at Henoko Bay, since most Okinawans oppose the US military presence on their island and the construction of the base also poses a threat to the local environment, including a population of endangered dugongs.

He has called on the US to remove all troops from Okinawa, a stance that has brought him into conflict with Japan’s militarist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

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