Japanese Communists criticize secrecy surrounding COVID-19 case numbers on U.S. military bases
A U.S. Air Force RC-135S Cobra Ball at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, southwestern Japan, Jan. 7, 2016. The Japanese Communist Party is criticizing the secrecy around COVID-19 cases among U.S. troops stationed at bases in Japan. | Koji Ueda / AP

TOKYO—The Japanese Communist Party is criticizing both the Japanese and U.S. governments for refusing to make public detailed information on the state of COVID-19 infections among U.S. forces stationed in Japan.

At a meeting of the House of Representatives Security Committee on April 3, JCP Representative Akamine Seiken noted that there are reportedly a considerable number of coronavirus-positive U.S. troops in Japan, possibly exposing many Japanese civilian employees working on U.S. bases and the communities where many U.S. soldiers live off-base.

Akamine stressed that the release of the information on the latest situation at each U.S. base is essential to effectively deal with the coronavirus epidemic in Japan.

Suzuki Kazuhiro, the director-general of the North American Affairs Bureau at Japan’s Foreign Ministry, however, refused to publicize detailed information on U.S. bases, saying that Japan is not allowed to reveal any information other than the total number of infected U.S. personnel due to U.S. Pentagon guidelines.

Akamine, in response, said, “It should be the Japanese government that has the responsibility to deal with anti-corona countermeasures in Japan—even on U.S. bases.”

Akamine said: “When the first case of infection was found at the U.S. Kadena base in Okinawa on March 28, no information was provided to the local government, despite the need of maintaining local public safety and health. The occurrence and frequency of coronavirus infections on U.S. military bases and installations in Japan should be made public because this is vital information linked to residents’ safety and health.”

He added that all municipalities where U.S. military facilities are located are seeking input from the U.S. military and again demanded that detailed information be shared without delay.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of April 3, there are 1,648 U.S. troops, including family members and civilian employees, infected with the new coronavirus, and six have died.


Shimbun Akahata
Shimbun Akahata

Shimbun Akahata (しんぶん赤旗) is the daily newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party.