Japan to join EU and China in issuing digital vaccine passport

Japan to join EU and China in issuing digital vaccine passport

NIKKEI 28 March 2021 – Japan will issue digital health certificates to citizens who have been inoculated against coronavirus, joining China, the European Union and other countries that have embraced vaccine passports aimed at opening up overseas travel, Nikkei has learned.

The certificate can be managed on a mobile app and will be in line with international standards, allowing the carrier to present the proof of vaccination when boarding a plane or checking in to a hotel.

International travel has been decimated by the pandemic, with air traffic down two-thirds last year and the tourism industry fairing even worse, and some see vaccine passports as a panacea to bring the industry back, although questions of fairness dog their use.

The government is considering adding the certificate to an app that is set to be introduced next month that holds a digital certificate for a negative test result. The information will also be linked with a new system that tracks the progress of the government’s vaccination program.

In addition to Japanese citizens who travel abroad, the app is also aimed at foreigners who are staying in Japan and returning to their home countries.

The government is cautious about using vaccine passports for domestic travel. Norihisa Tamura, Japan’s health minister, said the documents can lead to discrimination and prejudice — a view also held by some legislators in the Diet. The government does not plan to use the vaccine passports for the “Go To Travel” campaign to stimulate tourism demand, even if the program is resumed.