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Coronavirus

Japan's Suga appoints Taro Kono as COVID vaccine minister

Current head of administrative, regulatory reform ministry will take on new role

Taro Kono, Japan's administrative and regulatory reform minister, will be given an additional role of overseeing vaccine distribution. (File photo by Rie Ishii) 

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that a new ministerial position has been created to ensure the smooth rollout of Japan's vaccination program.

Taro Kono, currently administrative and regulatory reform minister, will take on the additional role of overseeing vaccine distribution.

Suga had said that he wanted to launch the vaccination program by late February, using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

"We would like to prepare a thorough structure for vaccination," Suga said reporters on Monday.

Suga added: "Vaccines are the key for infection control. We will start [the campaign] by late February, as far as possible. We've been preparing, together with local governments, to deliver vaccinations to those who need them... We will do our best to deliver safe and effective vaccines to all of you."

Regarding his choice of Kono for the new position, Suga said, "As the administrative and regulatory reform minister, he has been demonstrating his ability to solve issues involved in various offices of the government."

After the news of his appointment was released, Kono told reporters that he "would like to first make hearings from each ministry on the current situation."

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