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Japan’s COVID19 Passport Triggers Discrimination Concerns



Japan recently started its COVID19 vaccination efforts to curb the spread of the virus. With a Japan-developed vaccine still in its early stages, the government opted to import Pfizer’s COVID19 vaccine. The government already delayed the approval of Pfizer’s vaccine in December as officials opted to wait for the results of the Japanese test subjects in late January. Officials are looking to have a COVID19 passport as early as April once it starts vaccinating the elderly population. Its goal is to help vaccinated individuals to travel internationally.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of administrative reform, mentioned that “there is global effort to systematize vaccination records for international travel”. However, Japan’s Health Minister Norihisa Tamura raised the alarm over the potential discrimination that people could get once the new system is in place. Tamura mentioned that “we could see a problem with discrimination and prejudice, so we need to approach this carefully”.

Kono clarified that “it’s unlikely that domestic authorities would ask to see the certificate”. Also, Japan already issued a vaccination certificate to its population. Japan’s medical institutions already issued yellow fever and hepatitis A vaccine certificates for international travelers.

Japan’s Skepticism About The Vaccine

Japan is known for having strong skepticism over vaccines. It’s a problem that’s been around since the 1990s. The government even scrapped mandatory vaccinations after reports of vaccine side effects. And recently, the government already stopped HPV vaccine recommendations after supposed side effects reached the media.

According to a Lancet study, less than 30% of people believe that vaccines are safe and effective. On top of this, 36% said that they don’t want to take the COVID19 vaccine. With these numbers, it’s possible that many are not going to have a COVID19 passport soon.

COVID19 Passport Becoming a Norm

Could a digital certificate become a norm in the coming years? The European Union is already planning on having a digital certificate that would allow inoculated individuals to resume traveling across member nations.