U.S. Forces Japan extends health emergency to all bases in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Forces Japan on Wednesday extended a public health emergency to all military bases in Japan, amid a steady increase in new coronavirus infections in its host country and after Japan’s government declared a state of emergency for major cities.

A previous U.S. military health emergency declared on April 6 covered only the eastern Kanto region, which includes Tokyo.

The health emergency will remain in effect until May 15, more than a week beyond the planned end of the Japanese government’s emergency declaration, and gives commanders the authority to enforce compliance with health protection measures for anyone with access to U.S. facilities, including thousands of local residents who work on bases as engineers and service personnel, U.S. Forces Japan said in a statement.

Japan is the United States’ key ally in Asia and hosts more than 50,000 U.S. military personnel, including the biggest concentration on U.S. marines outside the United States on Okinawa island.

It is home to squadrons of advanced U.S. fighters and has the only forward deployed U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike group at the Yokosuka naval base, which serves as the headquarters of the Seventh Fleet.

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