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COVID-19 vaccinations in Japan to be linked to My Number system: minister

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, and Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Taro Kono are seen at a plenary session of the House of Representatives after the 204th regular session of the Diet was convened, on Jan. 18, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Administrative reform minister Taro Kono announced on Jan. 25 that a system would be developed in Japan to link COVID-19 vaccination coupons and hospital vaccination information with the "My Number" individual social security and tax number system to determine who has had the shots.

    The central government will cover the cost of the system and personnel expenses incurred by local governments related to inputting the data.

    Under the new system, data including the name of the medical facility giving the vaccination, the area where the person lives, the date and type of vaccination and the number of times the person has been vaccinated will be registered with each person's My Number. Not only will this allow the government to monitor the number of residents who have been vaccinated in real time, municipalities will also be able to check the state of vaccinations when people move or if they lose their coupons. It will also be possible to call on people individually to get their second vaccination.

    "We want to get this up and running in time for vaccinations of the elderly," Kono told reporters.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, standing at right behind an acrylic panel partition to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, answers questions from Akira Nagatsuma of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, third from the left in the foreground, during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Jan. 25, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

    Kono, who in charge of coordinating vaccinations, stated that a vaccination simulation would begin in the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Jan. 27. "We will first conduct a simulation to determine how much time it will actually take and what kind of arrangement is necessary," he said. His statement came in response to a question from Karen Makishima of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

    Makishima pointed out that the vaccinations represented an unprecedented operation. Kono responded that as soon as the schedules were decided, local bodies would quickly be informed, and that he wanted to put together a solid system with collaboration among local bodies, medical associations and related parties.

    Junya Ogawa of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile, pointed out misalignment in statements within the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga regarding when vaccines for every person in Japan would be secured. Suga stated that Japan was "aiming" for a date of June, negating Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai's statement that a June date was "expected." In his policy speech in autumn last year, Suga had stated that he would "secure enough vaccines for all of the people of Japan by the first half of next year." Ogawa pointed out that the administration had "clearly retreated" from this position.

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe, Yusuke Kaite, and Aoi Hanazawa, Political News Department)

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