Japan is contemplating issuing vaccine certificates to those who have been inoculated against the COVID-19 disease. This comes a month after Japan had said it would not issue vaccine certificates to anyone because that might lead to discrimination against those who cannot be inoculated due to allergies. However, after the United States and Europe backed a vaccine certificate-based system to ensure safe travel, Japan changed its stance and said it can issue certificates if requested internationally.
According to news agency ANI, Japan’s vaccination minister Taro Kono, while responding to a question in the parliament, said his government will provide vaccination certificates if requested internationally. Kono was the same Japanese official, who had denied issuing vaccine certificates citing potential discrimination against those who can’t be vaccinated. However, the minister has now taken a u-turn as he has said his government will issue the certificates if required in other countries.
This comes after some Western countries, particularly the allies of Japan, suggested using vaccine certificates or a vaccine passport to ensure safe travel amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Israel has already started issuing vaccine certificates to those who have been administered both doses of the vaccines. Several other countries, including China and India, are providing certificates to those who have received both doses of vaccines.
The idea of vaccine certificates has garnered huge attention in the past couple of weeks. The certificate would provide proof of vaccination where they are required, especially while travelling abroad. The European Council President Ursula von der Layen had earlier suggested members of the block could issue a common vaccine certificate to those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so people could travel within the region freely without having the need to go through quarantine. Cyprus was the first EU nation to announce plans to issue vaccine certificates and abolish quarantine measures for those who have one. Several other EU nations followed suit and have announced they will soon issue their own vaccine certificates.
So far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not approved the use of vaccine certificates for entering another country. However, the certificates could soon become a reality because WHO had also not approved flight bans during the peak of the pandemic but countries were using the measure to prevent the virus from entering their territories. Airline and cruise companies are backing the idea as they were the ones most affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. Australian airline Qantas has said that soon they may require passengers to show proof of vaccination in order to fly with them. Meanwhile, UK's Saga Cruises is already asking passengers for vaccine certificates to ensure they have been fully inoculated.
Japan began COVID-19 vaccinations last month after the country received the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. According to figures provided by Our World in Data, Japan has administered more than 2,50,000 doses of vaccines to date, of which 49,000 doses were given in the last 24 hours. Japanese media on Monday reported that the fifth batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has arrived in the country. Japan has more than 4,47,000 COVID-19 cases and 8,587 deaths as of March 15.