**Updated July 31, 2020**

RECAP FROM USFJ PRESS CONFERENCE

The commander of United States Forces, Japan, Lt Gen Kevin B. Schneider, held the first-ever USFJ virtual press conference on July 29. This conference addressed USFJ’s on-going efforts to combat COVID-19 in Japan as well as security issues in the Indo-Pacific Region.

The full conference can be viewed on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System here:

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/761437/us-forces-japan-virtual-press-conference

 

US-Japan Joint Statement

The Government of Japan (GOJ) and United States Forces Japan (USFJ) have worked closely in our joint effort to combat COVID-19.  The GOJ and USFJ are seriously concerned by the global pandemic and challenges posed to the health of the Japanese community as well as the personnel of USFJ.  In recognition of the challenges posed by this pandemic, Lieutenant General Schneider, Commander of USFJ, has maintained the Public Health Emergency for USFJ since April.  USFJ has implemented comprehensive and rigorous health protection policies, which are consistent with measures taken by the GOJ to combat COVID-19 and to alleviate local concern.  Every time there are positive cases among USFJ personnel, both sides share necessary information between the respective health authorities and notify the local governments concerned.  Both sides will continue to work together to ensure that such exchange of information will be done as expeditiously as possible.

The GOJ and USFJ agree that strict enforcement of the measures that USFJ is taking, including the following, is critically important in the joint effort to combat COVID-19.

  • All inbound USFJ personnel arriving on or after July 24 will continue to undergo mandatory 14-day Restriction of Movement (ROM) and also undergo PCR testing prior to release from ROM.
  • The Health Protection Condition Level (HPCON) throughout Japan remains elevated at Bravo, and the Commander of USFJ has also extended the Public Health Emergency through the middle of August.  In addition, all installations in Okinawa have elevated their local HPCON to C+, which means significant additional restrictions are in place due to the recent outbreaks.  USFJ has also conducted thorough and extensive contact tracing and PCR testing when there is a positive case to prevent further spread of the virus.
  • USFJ has also implemented a new policy for public information, which includes sharing the number of active cases of COVID-19 at US facilities.  Each affected installation will issue a press release announcing any new cases, while USFJ maintains a nation-wide list of active cases per installation to be updated twice weekly on its website.  This policy is an effort to balance operational security with transparency.
  • Since the beginning of this outbreak, USFJ has shared information about positive cases with the relevant local health authorities in accordance with bilateral agreements. As the pandemic spreads, our bilateral information sharing processes continue to be refined as we work together to share necessary information as expeditiously as possible.

The GOJ and USFJ reaffirm their commitment to ensure day-to-day close coordination, including with the local governments concerned, and between the respective health authorities, and to take the necessary actions to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Japan.

~USFJ~

U.S. Forces Japan extends Japan-wide public health emergency

The commander of US Forces Japan has extended the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for Japan in accordance with DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6200.03, “Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Within the DoD.” The PHE will automatically terminate on August 13, 2020, unless it is renewed and republished or sooner terminated by the commander. This order supersedes the previous PHE declaration for Japan issued on 10 June 20.

U.S. Forces Japan extends Japan-wide public health emergency

The commander of US Forces Japan has extended the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for Japan in accordance with DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6200.03, “Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Within the DoD.” The PHE will automatically terminate on July 14, 2020, unless it is renewed and republished or sooner terminated by the commander. This order supersedes the previous PHE declaration for Japan issued on 12 May 20.

 

U.S. Forces Japan commander directs transition to HPCON Bravo

Yokota Air Base, Tokyo – The U.S. Forces Japan Commander has directed a transition to Health Protection Condition Bravo throughout Japan effective June 12, 2020 at 1200.

Installation and base commanders will continually assess their respective areas and if necessary are authorized to make local HPCON levels stricter than the USFJ baseline of HPCON Bravo.

All personnel associated with USFJ are encouraged to work through their chain-of-command to ensure that they are aware of local policies and how the HPCON level affects them at their local installation.


U.S. Forces Japan declares Japan-wide public health emergency
Yokota Air Base, Tokyo – The commander of U.S. Forces Japan declared a public health emergency for all of Japan, Apr. 15, 2020. This order expanded the previous declaration, which included only the Kanto Plain region.
The declaration ensures commanders possess the necessary authorities to enforce compliance with health protection measures. It is applicable to anyone with access to U.S. installations or facilities and includes military, civilians, contractors, and host-nation employees.
The PHE will remain in effect through May 15, unless it is renewed or terminated sooner by the USFJ commander.
USFJ will continually assess necessary preventative measures and continues to encourage strict hygiene and social distancing to reduce the risk of transmission.

U.S. Forces Japan declares public health emergency for the Kanto Plain region

The U.S. Forces Japan commander announced a Public Health Emergency for the Kanto Plains region, Apr. 6, 2020.

The 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.

CDC designates Japan as “Level 3” country  

The Center for Disease Control recently made the decision to issue a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Japan, raising it from the previous level of two. More information on the CDC levels can be found at www.CDC.gov.

What does this mean for U.S. Forces in Japan?

As stated in the Department of Defense travel restriction guidance: “Effective 13 Mar 20, all DOD uniformed personnel, civilian personnel, and dependents traveling to, from, or through CDC Designated Level 3 locations, will stop movement for the next 60 days.”

This includes all forms of official travel, including Permanent Change of Station, TDY, and government-funded leave. For DOD uniformed personnel, this also includes personal leave and other non-official travel.

As stated in the travel restriction guidance, exceptions may be granted for compelling cases where the travel is: (1) determined to be mission essential; (2) necessary for humanitarian reasons; or (3) warranted due to extreme hardship. Details on exceptions should be addressed through your chain of command.

At the conclusion of the 60 days, which began March 13 2020, the DoD will reevaluate the stop movement policy and issue follow-on guidance, as necessary.

We understand that this may cause increased concern and we know that it will create challenges in some shape or form for all of us stationed here in Japan. Things may continue to change, and new challenges will present themselves.

At this time, there is no change in the USFJ Force Health Protection Order or HPCON levels here in Japan.

For questions about leave and liberty, you need to continue to work with your chain of command to educate yourself and those around you. Each service component will have its own unique policies in place and it is important that we understand them and don’t spread rumors and misinformation.

Again, work with your chain of command to familiarize yourselves and others about these policies as they continue to change.


On March 11, the Secretary of Defense released updated travel restrictions for DoD components in response to COVID-19.  U.S. Forces Japan is currently reviewing the policy and will be sending out more specific guidance as it becomes available.

This new DoD guidance will impact travel for military and civilian personnel and their families and we understand there are many questions and concerns at this time.  Please continue to monitor U.S. Forces Japan social media accounts and the COVID-19  feature page for updates as they become available. 

In the meantime, please stay in close communication with your leadership if you have travel plans such as a TDY, PCS, or leave away from your home station.

https://media.defense.gov/2020/Mar/11/2002263242/-1/-1/1/TRAVEL-RESTRICTIONS-FOR-DOD-COMPONENTS-IN-RESPONSE-TO-CORONAVIRUS-DISEASE-2019.PDF

Notice to Travelers

1.  While the GOJ has barred travelers from certain countries, they are allowing SOFA persons to fly into Japan.  Entry is conditioned on two issues.  First, travelers are not permitted to use public transportation from the initial point of entry to Japan, including domestic air travel.  Second, they need to do 14 days of ROM under US control.

2.  The best way for personnel to arrive in Japan for travel to Misawa, Iwakuni/Sasebo, or Okinawa is via the PATRIOT EXPRESS.  This will allow for uninterrupted travel to their final destination.  If going to Sasebo or any non-Kadena base, travel from Iwakuni or Kadena will need to be by private conveyance or GOV.  If a traveler headed outside the Kanto Plain arrives via commercial air, they will need to use government transportation to Yokota or Atsugi and then do onward movement by milair - or do their 14 day ROM and then go commercial.

3.  For personnel arriving on the Kanto Plain, they can travel PATRIOT or commercial.  However, travel from the airport to their place where they will ROM pursuant to the COMUSFJ force health protection order will need to by private conveyance or GOV.

4.  Given most travel is shut down currently, there should not be large numbers of travelers other than personnel returning from TDYs that had already been underway prior to the Stop Movement order.  It is essential that you contact each potential traveler and make sure they know the requirements and reschedule travel plans to enable the travelers to avoid expensive ROM requirements at Narita, Osaka, etc.

5.  We have had some travelers have difficulty with airlines allowing the travelers to get on flights or with the Ministry of Health allowing the SOFA persons to avoid quarantine in the immediate vicinity of the airport of initial arrival in Japan.  Please ensure your personnel have a copy of the appropriate entry letter provided via their chain of command, which should remove the roadblock.


 

 

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