Japan's government will begin COVID-19 vaccinations for foreign embassy officials in the country as early as Monday, as their local municipalities may not be able to provide the vaccine in time for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics starting July 23, diplomatic sources said Thursday.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry sent letters to all embassies from 156 countries stationed in Japan, requesting each to present a list of up to 10 applicants if they wish. But the detailed schedule and venues for the vaccination plan have yet to be decided.
Those working at foreign embassies in Japan are able to be inoculated through local municipalities' vaccine programs as local residents are. There are foreign embassies which use vaccines sent from their home countries.
Japan is lagging behind other counties in rolling out vaccines and the plan is designed to help embassy officials be vaccinated before they need to treat dignitaries visiting from their own countries for the Tokyo Games.
The decision comes as part of Tokyo's effort to hold the major sporting event in a "safe and secure" manner, as promised by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, southwestern England, earlier this week.
Embassy officials may join a workplace inoculation program for Japanese government officials, the sources said.
Earlier in the month, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Foreign Affairs Division called on Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to provide vaccinations to the ministry's employees and embassy officials before they treat dignitaries.