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No Okinawa-based U.S. military personnel returning from ROK test positive for COVID-19

Okinawa Times front-paged a report saying that the U.S. Marines in Okinawa disclosed on Monday that about 300 personnel of the Marines and the Navy arrived at Kadena Air Base on Feb. 28 and 29 after participating in drills held in South Korea. The paper wrote that Director-General Tanaka of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Bureau told Okinawa Vice Governor Jahana on Monday that the U.S. side said the Marines took strict measures by quarantining them and having them undergo medical examinations. The paper wrote that according to the Marines, these personnel were tested for the virus twice — before their departure from South Korea and upon their arrival in Okinawa — and none of them have shown such symptoms as coughing or fever. According to the U.S. military in Okinawa, none of these service members visited the South Korean city of Daegu, the epicenter of the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak, or the surrounding area. Although one U.S. service member stationed in South Korea has been infected with the virus, Korea-based personnel were not included in the group that returned to Okinawa. The paper wrote that the vice governor asked Director-General Tanaka to ensure that Japanese employees at U.S. military bases do not have contact with the group that returned from South Korea. Noting that U.S. military personnel are exempted from Japan’s domestic laws on quarantining under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the paper wrote that Jahana also called for the central government to make efforts to revise the SOFA so that U.S. military personnel will be subject to domestic laws.

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