Record 235 COVID-19 cases reported among U.S. forces in Okinawa

Record 235 COVID-19 cases reported among U.S. forces in Okinawa. A single-day record of 235 COVID-19 cases among U.S. forces in Okinawa Prefecture was confirmed Saturday, local officials said, following a cluster infection that broke out last month at one of the U.S. bases there.

Whether the cases were of the Omicron variant, a highly transmissible strain, was unknown, as was the breakdown of the U.S. bases affected. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases related to the U.S. military has now reached 3,613.

Japan’s border control measures have come under scrutiny in the wake of a group infection at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen in the southern island prefecture, which hosts the bulk of the U.S. military facilities in the country.

Over 250 people were known to have been infected with the coronavirus at the base.

A prefectural official called on the U.S. forces to take thorough antivirus measures, warning that an increase in infections at bases would raise the risks for nonmilitary personnel working there.

On Friday, the Foreign Ministry said the U.S. forces in Japan now require all of their personnel to test for COVID-19 within 24 hours after their arrival in the country.

Under an agreement between Japan and the United States, quarantine measures for U.S. military personnel on arrival are carried out by the United States, which means they are not subject to Japanese quarantine rules at airports.

The Japanese government has said the U.S. Defense Department had exempted its personnel from undergoing PCR tests because of the progress in vaccinations in the military and lower infection cases globally.

The forces have said the exemption began in September for vaccinated personnel coming to their facilities in Japan by military aircraft. Since the cluster infection, they have required their personnel coming to Japan to undergo the testing 72 hours ahead of departure.

Meanwhile, Tokyo reported on Saturday 79 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number since early October, continuing a gradual rebound amid the spread of Omicron. The Japanese capital is one of the areas to have reported a community spread of the variant.

In late November, Japan implemented strict border controls to stop the Omicron variant from entering by banning the entry of nonresident foreign nationals. It has also toughened quarantine measures for Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have recently been to certain countries or regions.

South Korea reached a consensus with the United States on the draft for a Korean War peace treaty. The republic’s head diplomat, Chung Eui-yong, announced the agreement Wednesday, which would effectively end the decades-long conflict.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam announced that, in a broad sense, his country and its benefactor had a mutual goal in mind.

“South Korea and the U.S. have already reached a defacto agreement on the end of war declaration draft under consensus of its importance,” he announced. “However, we are still in negations over detailed measures.”

However, a look into the plan’s details displays how the two sides’ objectives differ. Dr. Go Myong-hyun explained what each country specifically wanted from the deal.

“In case of South Korea, the first priority is peace then followed be de-nuclearization…with the United States de-nuclearization proceeds any type of negotiation,” he explained.

Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, who has embraced the far right elements of the party’s ideology, announced Saturday she will challenge five-term GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the June 28 primary after she gained the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

Miller had announced she would seek reelection but did not say where she would run until gaining Trump’s backing. Under a new Democratic-drawn redistricting map in which Illinois lost one House seat, Miller’s home in Oakland is just outside the new 15th Congressional District where Davis lives and is in the same district as four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro.

Members of Congress do not have to live in the district they represent.

Miller and her campaign said in a statement that she “is in a strong position to win re-election in the new 15th Congressional District, which gave President Trump 68 percent of the vote in 2020.”

“I won’t allow corrupt Democrats like (Gov.) J.B. Pritzker to cut backroom deals to draw me out of the district I represent, because conservative voters who stand with President Trump deserve a Pro-Second Amendment, Pro-Life, America First voice in Congress,” Miller said in accepting Trump’s backing.

Republican House leaders had urged Trump to stay out of a potential Miller primary with Davis or Bost in central and Southern Illinois. But Trump issued a statement Saturday saying Miller “is doing a fantastic job representing the people of Illinois! Strong on Election Security, the Second Amendment, and our Military and Vets, Mary is a champion of our America First agenda.”

The former president, who still holds considerable sway among top Republicans and GOP voters, added that Miller “fights hard against (President) Joe Biden’s open borders, runaway inflation, and the radical indoctrination of our children. Mary has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Trump endorsed Miller in her initial bid in 2020 for a district that may prove much further right in voters’ ideology than the new central and Southern Illinois district in which she has chosen to run. The district stretches from the Mississippi River to the Indiana border and she finds herself outside much of the region’s regular GOP establishment.

Davis has already been endorsed by 32 of the 35 GOP county chairmen in the new 15th District, as well as by two of his neighboring Illinois Republican congressional colleagues, Darin LaHood of Peoria and Bost, and more than a dozen GOP state lawmakers in the new district.

Davis also has been a strong supporter of Trump and co-chaired his 2020 reelection campaign in Illinois. Davis also has backed House Republican leadership under Kevin McCarthy of California.

Davis had been pondering a potential run for governor awaiting the Democratic-drawn redistricting map before deciding to seek reelection to the House. In Washington, tenure has its advantage and a GOP takeover of the chamber would give Davis committee chairmanship opportunities as soon as 2023 if he wins reelection.

Davis campaign spokesperson Aaron DeGroot blasted Miller as a “carpetbagger” and noted her husband, Chris, a state representative, also doesn’t live in the district he is seeking to represent.

“Mary Miller is only an outsider in the sense that she doesn’t live in the 15th District,” DeGroot said in a statement. ” Miller is so desperate to stay in Congress she’s running in a district she doesn’t live in, just like her husband. The Millers are taking a page out of the Springfield political insider playbook. Politics is their family business.”

“All Mary Miller has to show for her time in Congress is quoting Hitler and voting with Democrats like AOC (Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York) and the far left squad to defund our military and block a pay raise for our troops. That’s shameful. It’s clear that Mary Miller is all talk, no action,” DeGroot said.

Despite her Trump endorsement, DeGroot noted that Miller has endorsed state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia for governor. Bailey last month selected Stephanie Trussell, a suburban former right-wing radio talk show host, as his running mate. Trussell had been an outspoken opponent of Trump’s candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination before embracing his reelection.

“Rodney Davis is a conservative who gets things done. He’s already been hard at work highlighting his conservative accomplishments and work with President Trump during his time in office,” DeGroot said. “Rodney is an effective conservative member of Congress and Mary is not.”

Miller, who was born in Oak Park and raised in Naperville, has backed the most extreme elements of the GOP. She has called for Biden’s impeachment over border security concerns, sought the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci over his handling of the pandemic, is a member of the Freedom Caucus and has served as an ally of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has advocated unfounded conspiracy theories.

On Twitter, she attacked Biden’s efforts to require businesses to mandate vaccination of employees, saying in a Dec. 23 tweet: “The choice between a jab or a job isn’t American. It’s communism. The Democrats want to control every aspect of your life. We must Defeat them in 2022!”

A day earlier, she tweeted about a Satanic display at the State Capitol that “the left cheers this (because) they are not only an anti-American party, they are an anti-Christian party. We’re at war for the heart & soul of our country. Christ is on our side and we will prevail!”

Only days into office in January 2020, Miller was forced to apologize over remarks she made to a conservative group in which she said Adolf “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, whoever has the youth has the future”–as she encouraged the need of Republicans to indoctrinate youth with GOP ideology.

While she later said she regretted using the reference to the Nazi master of the Holocaust, she also blamed unnamed others for “intentionally trying to twist my words.”

In accepting Trump’s endorsement, Miller said the former president was supporting her “because I am a conservative fighter who is not afraid to take on the D.C. swamp.”

“I am not a career politician, and running for office is not my life’s ambition,” she said. “My life is spent in the real world, on my small family farm with my husband Chris, where we were blessed to raise our seven children and welcome our seventeen grandchildren. I bring those values to Washington, not the other way around.”

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