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Coronavirus

U.S. forces not tested for COVID at home found infected in Japan

227 positive cases at Okinawa's Camp Hansen after ignoring Tokyo rules on testing

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said U.S. forces in Japan did not conduct PCR tests before departure and instead conducted them on the fifth day after arrival as they were all vaccinated.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- U.S. forces in Japan did not test their personnel for novel coronavirus infections upon departure from the United States, going against Tokyo's request to follow its border control measures, the Japanese government said Thursday.

A government official earlier said the entire U.S. forces in Japan did not conduct PCR tests on personnel upon departure, but later stated that whether it was a practice by all of them is still being checked.

The revelation came after a group infection was reported at the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa Prefecture earlier in the month and put under the spotlight how troops there did not conduct PCR tests on personnel upon departure.

A total of 227 people at Camp Hansen have been found infected with the virus as of Thursday morning, according to the government.

"We have requested the U.S. side to thoroughly implement the maximum measures to prevent the spread of infections," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said during a regular news conference.

Matsuno said he has received an explanation that the U.S. forces in Japan have not conducted PCR tests upon departure and instead conducted them on the fifth day after arrival given the troops have already been vaccinated and would not leave the premises of the base facilities until after their movement restrictions are lifted.

He added that final arrangements are being made to test those found infected with the novel coronavirus for the Omicron variant.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi conveyed strong regret to U.S. Forces Japan Commander Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp over the failure to conduct PCR tests.

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