Cascading revelations about new COVID-19 cases at U.S. military bases in Okinawa are igniting scrutiny of what is increasingly seen as a “sanctuary” immune from immigration oversight by Japanese authorities.

The last several days have witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases at bases in Okinawa, with Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the city of Ginowan, logging 71 cases as of Tuesday evening, according to the prefecture. The Futenma outbreak, coupled with smaller clusters at elsewhere, including at Camp Hansen, has so far taken the tally of base-related cases in the prefecture to 136.

Okinawa’s efforts to ward off the virus are compromised by its hosting of the U.S. military — over which it has little control — illustrating challenges likely to resonate with many other nations that accommodate U.S. bases. The issue at the bases, which have long been a target of residents' anger, is compounded by difficulties the prefecture has with accessing key information over the outbreaks.