CHATAN — On Aug. 21, Chatan Town, Okinawa Prefecture, sent letters of protest by postal service to several agencies regarding the U.S. Marine Corps’ use of a hotel in Chatan to shelter U.S. military personnel either planning to leave Japan, waiting to take up their residence in Okinawa, or temporarily residing in Okinawa. The letters were mailed to the Okinawa Liaison Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, and the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The purpose of using the hotel had originally been to shelter only those personnel leaving Japan. Local governments were not notified of the change.
The letters of protest point out that the U.S. military’s use of a hotel in Chatan from July 2020 set off rumors and caused damage to the town’s tourism industry. The letters said that an arrangement that increased the number of users of off-base facilities was “unacceptable” amid the COVID-19 outbreak on U.S. military bases. It requested that sheltering requirements for U.S. military personnel be implemented on the bases. The letters also touched on the fact that the change in purpose of use of the hotel was conveyed late, and requested that information be conveyed promptly.