Japan calls on US forces to tighten discipline

The Japanese government has called on US forces in the country to tighten discipline in response to the arrest of a US soldier in the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa on suspicion of drunk driving.

The soldier, who is stationed at the US Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa, was arrested on Monday. He was later released. The base has been experiencing a large cluster of coronavirus infections.

The director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, Ichikawa Keiichi, conveyed regrets over the matter on Wednesday to the commander of US forces in Japan, Lieutenant General Ricky Rupp. Ichikawa strongly urged the US to strengthen discipline and prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

Ichikawa also asked US forces to step up anti-coronavirus measures for individuals at risk of infection, including restrictions on movements inside and outside of bases. The Okinawa prefectural government has also been seeking such arrangements.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu said the US informed the Japanese side that as of Wednesday morning, a total of 215 people at Camp Hansen had been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.

Matsuno said the US will cooperate with Japan to test samples from positive cases for the Omicron variant. He added that the US will share test results with Japan and send samples to the US for genomic analyses.