Education, Traditional & Culture

Japan to Begin Issuing Vaccine Passports (Vaccine Certificates) From July 26

For Japanese citizens and foreign residents alike, Japan will be issuing vaccine passports for those who need to travel.

On July 11th, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato appeared on NHK’s current affairs discussion program Sunday Debate (日曜討論/Nichiyo Toron) to discuss the progress of all things vaccination in Japan, and one piece of news in particular has inspired a buzz of discussion: vaccine passports. According to Kato, unlike the digital phone apps being employed by many countries around the world, the Japanese government will start by issuing paper certificates to any COVID-19 vaccinated residents of Japan who apply for the document. Applications will be accepted starting July 26th, and digital certificates will be introduced at a later date.

The “vaccine passports” to be issued by the government will contain fairly basic information in Japanese and English, including the vaccinated person’s name, nationality, and passport number, plus details on the exact vaccine injected, along with time, date, and location for the vaccination.

The use of vaccine passports has become a matter of course around the world, and with this news of a Japanese certificate, some voices in Japan have tentatively begun to suggest that they might be used domestically for crowded facilities and events. But for the time being, it looks like the Suga Cabinet will hold back on permitting domestic use of the certificate. The vehement and aggressive opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine found in other parts of the world aren’t quite as obvious in Japan, but a not-insignificant portion of the population is against the vaccine, noticeably hesitant, or at least clearly waiting to get vaccinated for the time being. Official bodies have been careful to clarify that vaccination is not obligatory for the general public, and there are concerns that using a vaccine passport domestically might create an atmosphere of unfair discrimination or give the impression that vaccines have become compulsory. Commenting on the subject, Minister Kato added that the decision of whether or not to use any kind of domestic vaccine passport system in Japan in the future would be reviewed and discussed separately.

But while there are no plans to mandate the vaccine, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren/経団連) seems to be looking to incentivize it, in one way or another. Japan’s largest economic organization is apparently proposing a way to link vaccine passports with “vaccine incentives” to the Japanese government, giving examples such as eased restrictions for sports games and other large-scale events, or discounts at eateries. Whether the federation’s plans are approved by the government or it’s still deemed too early for such a plan, with vaccination finally moving at a decent clip in Japan, it looks like there will be plenty of interesting news in the coming weeks and months.

Basic Info

Name: Vaccine Passports in Japan

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