Report: Japan to Introduce ‘Vaccine Passports’ for International Travel

Terumi Kamisawa, left, president of Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Center Komagome Hospital receives a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital in Tokyo Friday, March 5, 2021. Japan's government will extend a state of emergency in the Tokyo region for another two weeks because its medical systems …
Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP

The Japanese government plans to introduce Chinese coronavirus “vaccine passports” to encourage international travel, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

“The passports are expected to be in the form of a smartphone app, with travelers scanning QR codes at airports before boarding flights or when entering the country,” the news site reported, citing unnamed Japanese government sources.

“The app will link with the [Japanese] Vaccination Record System, a government database of people who have received shots. It will likely be based on CommonPass, an app developed with the involvement of the World Economic Forum,” the sources said.

“The [Japanese] Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare and the [Japanese] Foreign Ministry will play a central role in working out the details of the plan,” the sources added.

“The government is moving forward with the plan in the hope of resuming business travel that has virtually stopped during the pandemic, joining the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and China,” according to Kyodo News.

People who are unable or unwilling to receive Chinese coronavirus vaccines “due to potential allergic reactions or side effects” or other health or personal reasons may demonstrate that they are not carrying the virus through negative test results displayed on the app, according to Kyodo News.

“The passports will also list negative results from polymerase chain reaction [PCR] and antigen tests,” the sources said. “It is not expected that the scheme will be used domestically, for example, to regulate entry into restaurants or sports events.”

“Other countries are doing it, so Japan will have to consider it too,” Taro Kono, Japan’s Chinese coronavirus vaccine czar, said of the vaccine passport program during a Japanese parliamentary session on April 28.

Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura cautioned Tokyo against pursuing a coronavirus vaccine passport program too rashly in late January, warning that the system could infringe upon peoples’ individual rights.

“We could see a problem with discrimination and prejudice, so we need to approach this carefully,” Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said of the vaccine passport program on January 27 when asked by reporters if people without a Chinese coronavirus vaccine certificate “could be refused entry to restaurants and event venues” domestically.

An update to Japan’s Chinese coronavirus legislation, which took effect on February 13, “stipulates that the national and municipal governments must ensure nobody faces discrimination over the pandemic. Tamura suggested that banning individuals who have not received the vaccine from entering certain spaces or working at health care facilities could violate this clause,” Nikkei noted in February.

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