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News Navigator: What is a 'vaccine passport' and which countries accept Japan's?

A quiet international departure lobby is seen at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, on Aug. 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Tadakazu Nakamura)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about "vaccine passports" given to those who have been inoculated against the coronavirus.

    Question: Vaccinations against the coronavirus have started to make progress in Japan. Can people who have been inoculated now get a certificate?

    Answer: This certificate is called a "vaccine passport." Municipalities across the country began accepting applications for them on July 26. If a person who plans to travel overseas applies at the counter or online with their passport and proof of vaccination, the local government will issue a certificate after checking the vaccination record. The certificate will show the manufacturer of the vaccine and the date of the vaccination and other information.

    Q: In what situations can vaccine passports be used?

    A: You can use it when you go to countries where having the certificate exempts you from quarantine and a polymerase chain reaction test upon entry. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of Aug. 18, 16 countries and regions accept Japanese vaccine passports. Many of them are in Europe, where vaccinations are leading the way, and in countries where tourism is the key to economic recovery.

    Q: Can they be used in the U.S., China and South Korea, where many Japanese travel?

    A: The United States has shelved introducing a vaccine passport at the national level. In South Korea, it is accepted as a certificate of vaccination, but other documents are required for an exemption from quarantine. China does not currently provide such quarantine exemptions for vaccinated people.

    Q: Is it possible to go sightseeing like before the pandemic in countries where vaccine passports are accepted?

    A: It's not easy. Even if you are Japanese and returning to Japan, you still need proof of a negative test result for the coronavirus and spend 14 days in local quarantine. There are calls from the Japanese business community to exempt Japanese nationals from quarantine upon their return, but this will be difficult under the current circumstances.

    (Japanese original by Tomoko Onuki, Political News Department)

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