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COVID vaccines

Japan to issue online vaccine certificates in December

Smartphone app will use QR codes to authenticate inoculation records

The Japanese government will begin issuing digital "vaccine passports" in December to foster international travel.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will issue online COVID-19 vaccination certificates, starting in December.

The government plans to issue the certificate via a QR code through a smartphone app. The code will be scanned to process vaccination information.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and all other cabinet members will attend a digital society promotion conference on Monday, where they will officially approve the "digital vaccine passports." The project will be designated as a priority for the Digital Agency, which was launched Sept. 1.

An image of Japan's proposed digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate displayed on a smartphone.

The government and municipalities currently issue vaccine certificates on paper. Municipal offices nationwide handle the work and applications generally must be made on paper. The certificates are intended for overseas travel rather than domestic use.

The government has begun devising a method to read and confirm the QR code displayed on the smartphone app at airports.

The most recent Group of Seven summit, in its joint statement, said a common standard was necessary to regulate flows of people, including mutual authentication of apps. Specifications will be set based on standards drawn up by organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Japan will create a system that complies with these international standards. It will also consider whether smartphone-based certificates can be used for domestic purposes such as dining out, travel and admission to events.

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