By Kawaguchi Hajime
The U.S. military will stop sharing the number of coronavirus infections at its bases in Kanagawa Prefecture, the Kanagawa Prefectural Government told the Kanagawa Shimbun on Sept. 30. The U.S. military informed the prefectural government of the decision that day through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The decision was reportedly made in response to fewer infection cases within the U.S. military stationed in Japan.
Previously, the prefectural government released the average number of new infection cases for the Yokosuka base (Yokosuka City), Camp Zama (straddling Zama and Sagamihara cities), and the Atsugi base (straddling Yamato and Ayase cities) on its official website based on the information provided every week by the U.S. military through MOFA. According to MOFA, the U.S. military will discontinue sharing the information after it provided information on Sept. 30 on the infections confirmed during the period from Sept. 19 through 25. The U.S. military will continue sharing information with medical institutions within the bases and local health centers based on an agreement by the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee. But information provided to the health centers is designated as private.
The prefectural government requested MOFA to resume providing the number of infections that can be released to the public when the number increases. A representative of the U.S. Military Facilities Relations Division of the prefectural government explained that it did not ask MOFA to promptly resume doing so “based on a decrease in the number of infections at U.S. bases and the Japanese government’s introduction of a simplified system for reporting coronavirus case.”
In April, U.S. Forces Japan (Yokota base, Tokyo) stopped releasing the number of new infection cases at U.S. bases and began to release only the number of patients in hospitals and the number of those in serious conditions instead. But the Japanese government asked the U.S. to resume releasing the number of infections at each base. In May, the U.S. military resumed providing information as it currently does.