All of the U.S. forces in Japan had exempted their personnel from testing for novel coronavirus infections upon departure from the United States since Sept. 3 in line with U.S. policy, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Friday.

Hayashi said the practice, which went against Japan's request to follow its border control measures, has now been changed at Japan's request. The practice came to light after a group infection was reported at the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa Prefecture earlier in the month.

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, Hayashi said at a press conference.

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.

Hayashi said Japan and the United States will "further step up coordination to ensure consistency in U.S. and Japanese measures."

"We will continue to make every effort to ease the concerns of local people (over the possible spread of infections)," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a separate news conference, adding those involved will be notified as soon as possible should there be any new information.

The U.S. military on Oct. 1 shortened the restriction period to 10 days, in line with the Japanese government's decision. But even after Japan extended the period back to 14 days on Dec. 1, the personnel continued to be subject to 10 days until Monday, according to Hayashi.

The Japanese government implemented strict border controls on Nov. 30 in an attempt to stop the Omicron variant from entering by banning the entry of nonresident foreign nationals.

In addition to the ban on new entries of foreigners, Japan has imposed tougher quarantine measures for Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have recently been to certain countries or regions.

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