Japan to introduce "vaccine passports" for international travel

Kyodo -- Apr 29

Japan plans to introduce "vaccine passports" to make it easier for people who have been inoculated against COVID-19 to travel internationally, government sources said Wednesday.

The passports are expected to be in the form of a smartphone app, with travelers scanning QR codes at airports before boarding flights or when entering the country.

The government is moving forward with the plan in the hope of resuming business travel that has virtually stopped during the pandemic, joining the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China.

"Other countries are doing it, so Japan will have to consider it too," Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the country's vaccination efforts, said in a parliamentary session Wednesday.

Kono had previously voiced concern that requiring certification of vaccination could lead to discrimination against people unable or unwilling to receive shots due to potential allergic reactions or side effects.

To allay such worries, the passports will also list negative results from polymerase chain reaction and antigen tests, the sources said. It is not expected that the scheme will be used domestically, for example to regulate entry into restaurants or sports events.