A bill that assigns the government to shoulder the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine for all citizens of Japan has been approved in the Diet, providing a crucial move to address the spread of the coronavirus in the country as Japan struggles with its worst-yet wave of infections.
In line with this, the bill also holds local governments responsible for administering immunizations as per the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Gov’t Approves Bill Providing Free Vaccine for COVID-19 to All Citizens
The passage of the bill last Wednesday (December 2) in the Upper House following approval in the more powerful Lower House will bring the law into effect, the Japan Times reported.
One of the provisions of the law is to oblige citizens in principle to make efforts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, this provision is not to go into effect unless the effectiveness and safety of vaccines are fully confirmed.
While the death toll in Japan is by far the lowest in any Group of Seven advanced nation, the country suffered its worst economic downturn on record in the April-June quarter.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier suspended reopening economic activities due to a recent spike of coronavirus cases.
The bill, however, did not indicate if foreign nationals residing in the country will be part of the vaccination program.
As of April 2020, there is a total of 325,000 Filipinos living in Japan.