Thousand Japanese workers on US bases tests positive for Covid-19

Spc. Brittany Farley takes the temperature of a man entering Camp Zama, Japan, March 31, 2020. WINIFRED BROWN/U.S. ARMY

Washington, D.C, United States — A thousand workers at two United States Marine Corps bases on Okinawa, who are Japanese tests positive for the virus Covid-19.

The Japanese workers lined up for tests during the weekend at a community center near Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, along with Camp Hansen which has seen almost 200 cases of coronavirus confirmed since July 1.

Most of these cases are related to the movement of US troops , their families and civilian contractors from the mainland of US, Okinawa – where infection numbers continue to rise.

The United States has reported over 4.2 million cases with the daily infection rate growing by more than 60,000 during the past weeks.

Statistics like those have made Okinawa politicians wary of the virus spreading into the local population as contract workers go in and out of the US bases on a daily basis.

“The Japanese workers working inside (the US bases) are worried. I think they must been very fearful. It is something that both the US and Japanese governments need to address adequately,” said Masaharu Noguni, the mayor of Chatan, Okinawa.

The relationship of the
Japanese civilian-US military on the island has strained for years.

According to Okinawa Prefectural Government figures, although Okinawa represents less than 1% of Japanese territory, it hosts roughly 70% of US bases and half the 47,000 American troops in Japan.

However, many of Okinawa’s 1.44 million residents are frustrated by this as many of them say their concerns about it have been ignored by Tokyo since the US turned the island back over to Japan in 1972 after occupying it since the end of World War II.

A coronavirus risk just adds to resident complaints about land use, crimes related to US forces and how the bases may hold back economic progress.