July 16, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
Tokyo – Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki visited the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), and the Ministry of Defense (MoD) on July 15, to compose an official request demanding the U.S. institute policies to thoroughly administer PCR tests to any U.S. military personnel entering the country via U.S. bases, and to suspend the transfer of military personnel from the U.S. to Okinawa. The statement also requests the quarantining of U.S. military personnel as outlined by Japanese law, and a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Governor Tamaki stressed to reporters, “As the prefectures, cities, and towns that host bases are working on this, I want to make sure we are telling the U.S. what they need to be told.”
Governor Tamaki is making this request as the chairman of the “Okinawa Prefectural committee for the promotion of diverting land for U.S. military use and base issues,” which is comprised of Okinawa Prefecture and the towns and cities that host bases. Kin mayor Hajime Nakama and Ginowan mayor Atsushi Toma also made the trip, and they expressed their concerns around the spread of the virus as the mayors of the towns that host Camp Hansen. The Japanese government did not respond to questions regarding the specifics of the request’s contents.
At the MoD, Governor Tamaki, who met with Defense Minister Taro Kono, emphasized, “This situation has burdened the people of Okinawa with a great uneasiness.” Minister Kono apologized, saying “I am deeply sorry that this uneasiness has arisen,” and indicated that in order to prevent the base becoming a source of spreading the disease, they are hoping to coordinate with the bases. At MoFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi received the written request, responding, “We will work in earnest [to resolve this.”
At the Prime Minister’s office, they were received by Kazuhiro Sugita, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. Governor Tamaki also visited Joseph M. Young, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to request measures be put in place.
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)