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Coronavirus

Japan depends on overseas vaccines due to 30 years of inaction

Bureaucratic timidity allowed a once vital industry to wither away

Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Center Komagome Hospital's president Terumi Kamisawa receives a dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease. Japan has no homegrown coronavirus vaccine that has been approved.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's visit to the U.S. last month included a phone call to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, as the Japanese leader sought to secure doses of the American company's coronavirus vaccine.

Taro Kono, Japan's minister for regulatory reform, is the point man for the country's vaccination campaign. But Bourla let it be known that he wanted to speak with Suga directly.

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