The Japanese government launched on Monday a smartphone app that allows people to display proof of vaccination that can be used for multiple purposes, including immigration procedures.
The app, called the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate Application and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, displays information such as the number of doses a user has received, the dates of inoculation and the vaccine manufacturer, according to the Digital Agency.
Municipal governments have been issuing vaccine certificates in paper form since the summer, but the app makes it easier for people to obtain certification through the "My Number" national identification system so long as they have been issued a My Number card, an agency official said.
While all citizens and residents of Japan are issued 12-digit ID numbers, cards need to be applied for separately.
By scanning their My Number cards with a smartphone, people can pull up information on the app regarding their inoculation status from the Vaccination Record System, a cloud system created by the government and used by municipalities to manage data on residents' inoculation status.
For use in international travel, users need to additionally input passport data. Instructions on the app are provided only in Japanese language.
In addition to using the digital certificates for quarantine inspections in destination countries, the agency is also considering domestic use in a program designed to loosen COVID-related restrictions on the vaccinated.
The app is "expected to be used for lowering infection risks in daily lives as well as economic and social activities," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference Monday.
The government in November outlined a "vaccine and test package" aimed at easing restrictions for people with proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests even when the country is under a virus state of emergency.
Under the plan, venues of large-scale events will be able to accommodate a full crowd, while there will be no limits to the number of people at restaurants even under an emergency so long as people have either been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID.
People who live in municipalities that do not give consent to the use of data in the VRS system are not eligible for the digital certificate service. The list of municipalities whose residents are eligible for the service is available on the Digital Agency website.
However, the agency has warned that some registered vaccination data may be incorrect and called on users to seek any necessary corrections at their municipalities.
About 78 percent of the Japanese population has received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The government began administering booster shots to health care workers earlier this month amid increasing concern about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.