In a move that follows the EU and China, Japan is set to launch digital health certificates to citizens who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. This is a move that doesn’t only help the country manage its vaccination effort and one that will allow citizens to travel and do other activities more freely.
Japan’s coronavirus vaccination efforts are not the best in the world. In fact, the government has been having a hard time getting its number of doses up. That said, the launch of this digital vaccine passport opens up new possibilities for Japanese citizens who need to get back to their daily activities under a more normal circumstance.
Picking up the pace
The latest report from Japan confirmed that the country has delivered 7.1 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens. While the number seems big at first, this is only the beginning of Japan’s efforts. There are now more than 2 million citizens who are fully vaccinated.
That is only 1.7% of the country’s population, leaving a large number of the population still needing doses. The numbers will certainly pick up as more citizens receive their second doses and the government rolls out more doses to the remaining population.
Japan is facing several challenges in rolling out vaccine doses. For starters, it is not always easy to distribute vaccines to different parts of the country, especially with the storage requirements of vaccines being used still relatively complicated.
At the same time, there is an evident lack of urgency among citizens. They have gotten so used to living under the current condition that they don’t see an immediate need to return to normal. The risk, however, remains as high as ever, especially in large cities.
Racing against the time
Large cities in Japan are notoriously dense. In cities like Nagoya, the density per square kilometer goes above 2,000 people. In some areas in Tokyo, the population density can be five times as high, with areas like Mitaka hosting more than 10,000 people per square kilometer.
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While the overall urgency among citizens is low, the government acknowledged the fact that rapid distribution and administration of vaccine doses is critical. The country is only one severe case away from another spike.
Good news for the vaccinated
However, for those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, the future is looking bright. The release of a digital vaccine passport will allow the vaccinated to travel. At the same time, the implementation of a similar system in China and Europe allows Japan to open its borders to travelers with the same digital passport.
This could have a massive impact on the country’s economy. Trading activity on Japan’s stock markets is already seeing signs of improvement, and currency pairs like USDJPY and EURJPY are showing higher volatility than usual. Experts are also predicting a significant impact on the country’s economy once the digital vaccine passport is fully implemented next month.
After more than a year of dealing with a pandemic, these positive updates are the kind of news that citizens of Japan – and the rest of the world – need.