Japan reached the government's target of administering 1 million COVID-19 booster shots per day in mid-February as it accelerated the inoculation drive to stem infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the vaccine minister said Friday.
Noriko Horiuchi, minister in charge of vaccinations, said at a news conference that the number of daily shots surpassed 1 million on Feb. 18 and Feb. 26.
As the central government collects vaccination data from local governments, there are delays in finalizing daily counts.
In early February, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to expedite the country's inoculation drive to administer 1 million booster shots per day in the latter half of the month.
At the time, the government said only 5.9 percent of Japan's population of 125 million, or about 7.47 million people, had received third shots since the beginning of December. As of Thursday, the figure had increased to 22.9 percent, according to the government.
With Omicron infections straining Japan's medical system, 31 of the country's 47 prefectures remain under a quasi-state of emergency to rein in cases.
The government will extend the anti-virus measures, entailing requests by governors for restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol, in Tokyo, Osaka and 16 other prefectures by two weeks from the original end date of March 6.
It will lift the curbs as scheduled in the remaining 13 prefectures including Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan will also ease its COVID-19 border controls further from March 14, raising the daily cap on arrivals from overseas to 7,000 from the current 5,000, amid growing calls for the country to allow more people to enter, especially foreign students ahead of the April start of the country's school year.