Covid-19
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Japan will implement vaccine passports from July

Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and Poland confirm they will loosen entry rules for vaccine passport holders from Japan

By
Emma Steen
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[Update, July 21] The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government has made agreements with five European countries to exempt vaccinated travellers from entry or quarantine requirements. According to Kyodo News, Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and Poland will loosen restrictions for vaccine passport holders starting next week. This is currently only applicable to residents of Japan holding a vaccine passport issued by Japan. The government is hoping to expand the agreements to include 30 countries. 

South Korea has also agreed to ease entry restrictions for vaccinated travellers from Japan. However, travellers must have a specific reason for visiting (i.e. academic or humanitarian reasons) to apply for quarantine exemption.  

In addition, Estonia has agreed to recognise Japan’s vaccine passport, though the country currently does not require travellers – vaccinated or not – to observe any quarantine period. 

Japan has yet to announce if and when it will ease similar restrictions for holders of foreign vaccine passports travelling into Japan. 

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[June 8] With nearly 30 percent of the population vaccinated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and nearly 18 percent fully vaccinated as of July 11, the Japanese government is getting ready to issue vaccine passports this summer to help with smoother international travel. 

According to The Mainichi, applications for vaccine passports will open from July 26, with certificates expected to be distributed free of charge ‘for the time being’. Based on a statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the newspaper reported that documents could be issued as quickly as the same day, or within several days of applying.

As for how the certificates will work, Nikkei previously reported that Japan will be modelling its system on the European Union’s Covid Certificate system, which launched on July 1. The EU system exempts the vaccine passport holder from testing and quarantine measures. The motivation behind countries adopting initiatives like this is to boost the economy by allowing business travellers to travel abroad for work and to make it easier for foreign residents to visit their home countries. 

According to the Japan Times, the Japanese government plans to issue certificates first on paper. A digital platform will be considered at a later date. The vaccination certificates will be issued by municipalities and include details such as the date that the holder was vaccinated and which brand of vaccine they received in both English and Japanese. 

The government is now asking countries including Italy, France and Greece to reduce the length of mandatory quarantine for vaccine passport holders travelling from Japan or exempt them from it altogether. However, the Japanese government has yet to publicly confirm any plans to make similar exceptions for holders of vaccine passports coming into Japan.

This article was originally published on June 8 and updated on July 21.

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