Japan issues vaccine passport this summer



Japan will issue COVID-19 vaccination certificate this summer to allow vaccinated citizens to travel abroad, as well as give a boost to the economy.

Vaccine certificates, or vaccine passports, are being used around the world.  The European Union (EU) will adopt this certificate from July before lifting restrictions on travel within the bloc.

Currently, some high-ranking Japanese government officials have to carry unofficial vaccination certificates when traveling on business trips to Europe, the US and many other places.

Japan issues vaccine passport this summer
Japan issues vaccine passport this summer / ph: pexels

According to the Nikkei financial newspaper, an interdisciplinary group of officials led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato is discussing a program to issue official vaccine passport for businessmen and other groups.  Accordingly, they will launch the paper certificate this summer, followed by a digital version - which can be used through a smartphone app - later this year.

Japan's COVID-19 vaccination campaign is slower than other developed countries, but has just imported more vaccines from the US.  The country has been vaccinating citizens aged 65 and over since April and will vaccinate at companies from June 21.

The vaccine passport is expected to allow entrepreneurs in different countries to meet face-to-face by reducing the risk of infection for both the businessman and the host country.

 In Japan, vaccine passport will be issued by the local government.  This is the place to get information about residents as well as in charge of vaccination activities.  Personal information including identity, vaccine type and date of injection will be listed on the certificate.  The Japanese government will ensure accuracy by linking the certificates to the national immunization record system.

Users will present their vaccine passport when traveling on international flights and entering foreign countries.  Foreigners living in Japan who want to return to their homeland are among those who are waiting for the vaccine passport to be released, along with Japanese citizens who want to go abroad to study and do business.

Tokyo's vaccine passport program learns from the EU's Digital COVID Certificate project due to launch on July 1.  EU certificates are issued to people who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, giving them an exemption from self-isolation and testing while traveling within the bloc.  Seven EU countries have been testing the EU vaccine passport program since this month.

On May 31, the European Commission (EC) recommended that members gradually ease travel restrictions, as well as consider issuing vaccine passports.  The EU will allow the entry of travelers from outside the bloc, such as the US and Japan, if they receive an EU-approved vaccine.

However, critics say vaccine passports can lead to discrimination against those who are not vaccinated.  In the US, state officials are taking different approaches to this issue.  In March, New York launched the Excelsior Pass mobile app that displays an individual's vaccination history.  This app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

But the state of Georgia has banned state agencies from using vaccine passports.  State Governor Brian Kemp said vaccination is a personal decision between each resident and a health professional, not the state government.

Georgia has stated that it does not share state immunization records with any public or private organization for the purposes of building vaccine passports, although it continues to urge people to get vaccinated.  According to US media, at least 10 states in the country have similar restrictive rules.

Japan is discussing this matter cautiously.  Experts are calling on the government to issue an unified set of guidelines to avoid overlapping the rules of companies and regions in order to quickly return economic activities to normal.

International cooperation will be essential for the vaccine passport program to run smoothly.  The G-7 group affirmed that countries need to work together to create a framework for recognizing each other's vaccine passports, in which the World Health Organization (WHO) plays a central role.

Japan issues vaccine passport this summer

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