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Japan eyes use of vaccine passports for commercial activities

An inn employee receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Kobe's Kita Ward on June 21, 2021, as part of workplace inoculations launched by the Arima Hot Springs Tourism Association. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan is considering a wide usage of so-called vaccine passports for commercial purposes as part of efforts to regularize domestic social and economic activities that have long been stagnant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a draft government plan.

    Such certificates will allow users entry and usage at stores and sites for entry, with business operators free to decide what kind of services they will offer and to whom to provide such services, the draft says.

    The plan, to be presented at a government COVID-19 task force meeting as early as Thursday, says that with vaccine passports, users could get discounts and extra services.

    "Use of vaccine passports will be accepted widely" in the country, it says.

    The draft, however, warned against inappropriate discriminatory behavior toward those who do not show vaccine passports, such as requiring people to be vaccinated in order to enter a school and take up a job.

    The draft also bans businesses from charging those who do not show vaccine passports "exorbitant prices."

    Currently, Japan issues vaccine passports for international travel purpose only. But the government is planning to change that policy and digitalize the system by the end of the year in a bid to expand their full-fledged usage domestically.

    The certificates are official records issued free of charge by local municipalities showing a person has been fully inoculated against COVID-19, with information such as name, passport number and date of vaccination also included.

    People who wish to obtain a certificate are required to submit in person or via mail documents, including the application form, passport and vaccination tickets.

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