Proof of Vaccination Apps in Japan Coming Soon: Tokyo App to Offer Restaurant Coupons

With over 70 percent of the population of Japan now vaccinated, the government of Japan plans to launch a smartphone app in December for people to use as proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

However, some cities and prefectures will launch their own apps prior to the national version, with the Tokyo metropolitan government to team with the LINE messenger app to launch an app exclusively for residents of the capital on November 1st.

People will be able to register with the “TOKYO Vaccine App” (links to official page in Japanese) to prove that they have received the vaccine, with the incentive of receiving restaurant coupons. The main purpose is to promote vaccination by young people, but the app can also be used as proof of vaccination, since the vaccination record and an image of the registrant’s proof of ID will be registered. Restaurants and bars in Tokyo are meant to visually confirm proof of vaccination via the app when admitting people to dining and drinking establishments.

Since people will use their postal code to register with the app, initially it is only intended to be used by Tokyo residents and only for stores and restaurants in Tokyo. In the future, the metropolitan government also plans to consider letting commuters, students, and travelers from outside Tokyo to register.

The Tokyo metropolitan government lifted its request for restaurants to shorten business hours on October 25th, but it is requesting that restaurants seat four guests or fewer per table. For restaurants that are certified as part of the government’s vaccination program, five or more patrons may be seated at a table if they present proof of vaccination.

Tokyo residents who have registered using the LINE app may use the app as proof, but people outside Tokyo will have to show hardcopy proof (either the original vaccination card or a photocopy).

Gunma Prefecture has also launched a digital version of proof of vaccination, called the Gunma Vaccine Notebook. It currently has about 200,000 registrants and was launched on October 13th. In Okinawa prefecture, the city of Ishigaki also has a smartphone vaccination certificate, which was launched at the end of September; people using the app can receive special benefits at participating restaurants.

Since a national proof of vaccination app will not be launched until December, there is talk that confusion is inevitable, with different prefectures and cities launching their own versions and people traveling across prefectures. It is unclear whether an app from another prefecture will be able to be used as “immunity passport”.

The national version will be developed by the Digital Agency and will use the My Number system to digitize the proof of vaccination along with proof of identity. Because of this, it is expected to be highly accurate for verifying whether the vaccination certificate actually belongs to the person.

It’s also hoped that a national proof-of-vaccination app can be used as an “immunity passport” that will enable economic activities to be resumed while keeping down the spread of infection.

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