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COVID-19 vaccine shipment info to be kept secret: Japanese minister Kono

Administrative reform minister Taro Kono (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Information on coronavirus vaccine shipments, including when the shots will arrive from Europe and the United States, will be kept secret, the government minister heading Japan's coronavirus vaccine rollout said on Feb. 2.

    "From the perspective of security, we'd like to withhold the information about when and where they will be transported," minister for administrative reform and vaccination chief Taro Kono told reporters at the Cabinet Office.

    The comments suggested Kono is worried about vaccine procurement as competition for supplies of the shots heats up worldwide. Regarding the runup to the shipments, he said, "We want people not to talk about how the vaccines will be imported. I would really appreciate it if the media would refrain from covering this, if possible." He did not clarify exactly what about the shipments worried him, saying only that "various things could happen, from terrorism to sabotage."

    The government has plans in place to get vaccines from three manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. beginning mid-February for nationwide distribution, with the imports slated to come through Narita and Kansai international airports and other points. However, the European Union has taken measures to curb vaccine exports due to vaccine shortages in the bloc. One individual close to the Japanese government called the situation a "battle for vaccines," and the government is highly concerned.

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe, Political News Department)

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