TOKYO — Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on March 6 commented on the request made by the Okinawa Prefectural Government to revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to enable Japan to apply its domestic laws regarding quarantine to U.S. military personnel entering Japan amid the spread of coronavirus infections. Suga indicated his intention to refuse Okinawa’s request, saying, “I understand there’re many opinions about the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, but we want to constantly pursue what the agreement should be.”
Suga’s remarks were made in response to a question raised by Kenta Izumi of the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) during a cabinet committee meeting of the Lower House held that day. Izumi said: “American quarantine officers are examining people, goods, and animals and plants that are coming from the U.S. This is a very frustrating situation and causing anxiety among people of Okinawa,” insisting that the U.S. military should be subject to the Japanese quarantine.
At the end of February, the U.S. Marine Corps Stationed in Okinawa and others returned to Okinawa after conducting training in South Korea, where the coronavirus infection has been spreading. That prompted Deputy Okinawa Governor Kiichiro Jahana to make a request to the central government to “revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement to adopt domestic laws.” Currently, Japanese domestic laws on quarantine are not applied to U.S. military personnel entering Japan due to a stipulation of the agreement.