Japan may issue COVID-19 vaccination certificates as infections continue uptick

Source: Xinhua| 2021-03-16 01:35:15|Editor: huaxia
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TOKYO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Monday confirmed 695 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the country's cumulative total to 449,318, with the minister in charge of vaccination efforts saying certificates to those who have been vaccinated may be issued.

According to health officials and local authorities, a total of 8,632 have died nationwide from the virus, with infection figures continuing to rise in major urban areas, including Osaka, Tokyo and three of the capital's neighboring prefectures currently under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

Although the countrywide inoculation campaign is gathering steam, Taro Kono, Japan's minister in charge of vaccination efforts, said on Monday that issuing certificates to people who have been inoculated against the virus was a "possibility."

"If requested internationally, we will have no other choice but to consider issuing inoculation certificates," Kono said in a parliamentary session.

He said that the certificates could be "processed through government vaccine rollout management systems."

Kono's latest remarks come as government sources said Monday an exit from the state of emergency "looked likely" for the greater Tokyo region.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a one-month state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area on Jan. 7, before expanding the emergency measure to a total of 11 prefectures.

It was then extended for another month for the majority of prefectures to March 7 and then extended by two weeks to Sunday for Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures.

While saying on Monday it was too early to determine if the COVID-19 emergency period in place for the Tokyo region could be lifted on March 21 as planned, he said the final decision would be made after consulting with experts.

Informed sources said, however, that a decision on the exit date could possibly be announced on Thursday.

The decision will come with less than five months until the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics, with both the international and local organizing bodies pushing forward with the go ahead of the Games despite concerns over the virus situation domestically and globally.

The quadrennial event has already been postponed by one year owing to the pandemic. Enditem