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US Forces Japan Declares Public Health Emergency Amid Virus Fears

U.S. Forces Japan takes precautions as COVID-19 spreads in Japan.

Ankit Panda
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US Forces Japan Declares Public Health Emergency Amid Virus Fears
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita

The commander of U.S. Forces Japan announced a public health emergency on Monday, April 6. The declaration applies to Japan’s Kanto Plains region, where an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, is feared. According to a statement from U.S. Forces Japan, Monday’s declaration “ensures commanders possess the necessary authorities to enforce compliance health protection measures among military, civilians, and contractors who live and work on U.S. installations,” a Yokota Air Base release said.

“Protecting the health and safety of everyone associated with U.S. Forces Japan is my number one priority. Due to the steady increase in COVID-19 cases in the Tokyo area, I have implemented a Public Health Emergency for the Kanto Plains region,” Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the U.S. Forces Japan commander, said. “This order covers all Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine installations and facilities in the area.”

According to U.S. Forces Japan, the sites affected will include the following:

Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji, Camp Zama, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Hardy Barracks (Akasaka Press Center), Ikego Housing Area, Sagami Depot, Sagamihara Housing, Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, New Sanno Hotel, Tama Hills Recreation Area, Yokohoma North Dock, [and] Yokota Air Base.

Moreover, associated housing areas and facilities in the area are also covered by the emergency declaration. “I cannot underscore enough the importance of personal responsibility at a time like this. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires the entire team – service members, civilians, families, and our Japanese partners,” Schneider continued.

“The virus makes no exceptions based on military or civilian status, and our policies and procedures won’t either. We are in this together and I need every single person on every single facility and installation to take this seriously and comply with these measures. While I understand how challenging these times are, it is everyone’s responsibility to do their best to prevent the spread of this virus.”

The U.S. Forces Japan declaration came amid reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would declare a state of emergency over COVID–19 across all of Japan. According to Kyodo News, the prime ministerial declaration would be made on Tuesday and comes amid a surge in infections in Tokyo.

Including the tally of individuals on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Japan’s total cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 4,500 as of Sunday. More than 100 people had died from the disease, which the World Health Organization has deemed a pandemic.