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A port call by a U.S. warship planned in early February in Otaru in Hokkaido has been canceled, according to the Otaru Municipal Government.

The U.S. military notified the city of the cancellation Tuesday.

Although the U.S. side has not given any reason for the cancellation, the coronavirus infection situation is believed to have been behind the decision.

The USS Stockdale destroyer of the U.S. Navy was scheduled to call at the Otaru port for six days from Feb. 6 to promote U.S.-Japan relations. Up to 240 people were expected to visit the city.

The Otaru government was considering asking the U.S. military to rethink the port call plan after cluster infections hit U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Yamaguchi prefectures.

According to the municipal government, a port call by a U.S. warship in Otaru has been conducted almost every year since 1961, with crew members visiting sightseeing spots in and outside the city. No port call was made in 2020 and last year due to the pandemic.

“While it is not known exactly why the decision was made, we’re feeling relieved about the outcome,” Otaru Mayor Toshiya Hazama said.

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