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Okinawa officials comment on U.S. refusal to release info on COVID-19 cases among military

The two major Okinawa papers reported on local reactions to the DOD’s decision not to disclose the details of coronavirus infections among military personnel, including information on the bases and units where COVID-19 cases have occurred. On the cases at Kadena AB, Governor Tamaki was quoted by Ryukyu Shimpo as saying yesterday that the prefectural government will continue trying to obtain from the U.S. side as much information as possible and make it available to local residents. He admitted, however, that the disclosure of such information to the public might not be allowed. A prefectural government official in charge of public health reportedly noted that if detailed information were provided, he would respect the U.S. military’s preference not to share it with the public. “There is a chance that the U.S. would decide not to provide any more information if requirements for nondisclosure were not met,” he said. “Obtaining information is critical when dealing with a public health crisis.” According to the daily, Kadena authorities promised on Wednesday to continue to provide relevant information to the prefectural government. The base authorities also reportedly informed the local government that the three base community members with the virus apparently were not in “close contact” with any local residents before they tested positive.

 

According to Okinawa Times, Vice Governor Jahana voiced displeasure with the U.S. military’s policy by saying: “Okinawa is not part of the United States. If the U.S. military considers itself to be a ‘good neighbor,” it is a matter of course for it to provide us with relevant information so that the local residents can live in peace” A Kadena AB public affairs official reportedly told the prefectural government on Tuesday that every service member and pilot who visits the installation is subject to a “medical check” upon entry and departure.      

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