Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said Friday it has filed a request with Japan's health ministry for the approval of U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

It is the third application for regulatory approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in Japan, following U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and Britain's AstraZeneca Plc.

A view of U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc.'s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 8, 2020. (Getty/Kyodo)

Takeda is Moderna's partner for the clinical study, importation and distribution of the vaccine in Japan.

Under an agreement with the Japanese government, Takeda plans to supply 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough for 25 million people.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is expected to process the application by examining data from clinical studies conducted in Japan and the United States.

Inoculations in Japan began last month, starting with Pfizer's vaccine for front-line health care workers.

The Moderna vaccine needs to be administered in two doses 28 days apart. It can be stored for about six months at around minus 20 C and is easier to handle than Pfizer's vaccine, which has to be kept at around minus 75 C for long-term storage.

Japan has signed agreements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna for a total of 314 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, enough to inoculate 157 million people. The country's population is around 126 million.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, postponed for one year to this summer, Japan is still struggling to rein in infections in urban areas such as Tokyo where the COVID-19 state of emergency is set to be extended for two weeks beyond Sunday.