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COVID vaccines

Japanese government weighs vaccine passport for overseas travel

If other countries require such documents, Japan will have to follow, Kono says

Japan is reviewing the idea of vaccine passports as part of efforts to allow Japanese to travel overseas, Taro Kono, minister in charge of the inoculation program, said on Monday.

TOKYO -- Japan is reviewing the idea of vaccine passports as part of efforts to allow Japanese to travel overseas, Taro Kono, minister in charge of the inoculation program, said on Monday.

"If such passports become used globally, Japan would have to think about doing the same," he said during a parliamentary session.

The idea of vaccine passports has been floated in the European Union. Holders of these documents would be allowed to travel in the bloc freely if the EU does decide on the scheme.

Critics say, however, that such a requirement could lead to discrimination against those who are not vaccinated.

Ai Aoki, upper house member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, the largest opposition, voiced such fears. "I am concerned that such a passport would create an atmosphere where people who do not want to receive vaccination can be treated unfavorably," she said.

Kono stressed that he was not thinking about introducing such passports for travel within Japan and that the discussion was around certificates to allow overseas trips.

He said that a new government system, still under development, that will be employed to manage vaccination records can be used to issue vaccine passports.

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