Japan accuses the United States of being to blame for the rise in virus cases.
The infection situation at US military bases, according to Foreign Minister Hayashi, is “one of the factors driving the virus’s spread.”
On Thursday, Japan blamed an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country on US forces stationed there.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that the infection situation in US forces’ facilities is one of the factors driving the virus’s spread in their surrounding areas,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference at the Japan National Press Club.
According to Tokyo-based Kyodo News, Hayashi stated, “I take it so seriously.”
Under a bilateral defense pact, the United States has around 50,000 troops stationed in Japan.
Japanese authorities recently discovered that the American soldiers were not complying with the host country’s anti-virus measures, which included conducting PCR tests before flying into Japan.
Tokyo has expressed its displeasure with the situation to Washington.
To stop the virus from spreading further, Hayashi proposed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken imposing a curfew on US military bases in Japan.
Few virus clusters were discovered among the US bases in Japan, according to authorities.
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan.
Governors in regions with US military bases, such as Okinawa and Yamaguchi provinces, have blamed the US forces for the rising number of cases.
The western Japanese provinces of Yamaguchi and Hiroshima, as well as Okinawa, a southwestern island province, have been under a semi-state of emergency since Sunday to prevent the virus from spreading.
The ban on foreign visitors was also extended until the end of February in Japan.
Meanwhile, over 3,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Tokyo on Thursday, the highest number in more than four months.
Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has reported over 1.7 million coronavirus cases and nearly 18,500 deaths.