Tokyo, December 2: As part of its campaign to eliminate coronavirus crisis from Japan, the Yoshihide Suga government has enacted a law for free COVID-19 vaccination. The Bill, to provide the vaccine at no cost to the entire population, was cleared by the country's Upper House of Parliament in the early hours of Wednesday.
The law was first approved by the all-powerful Lower House. The government, apart from announcing that the federal regime will bear the entire cost, also stated in the Bill that the provincial governments would be authorised and held responsible for the vaccination programmes under their jurisdiction. First Coronavirus Vaccines Will Go to Healthcare Workers, Says US Panel.
The law comes at a time when Japan is facing a resurgence in new COVID-19 infections. The country reported 2,577 coronavirus cases on November 28, highest in a single day since the pandemic began.
The second wave of the virus spread has compelled the central government to impose strict restrictions. Regional travel has been severely regulated -- days after the government promoted the same to revive tourism. Restaurants and bars are being asked to down the shutters early and ensure social distancing during the limited hours when they operate.
Japan, so far, has succeeded in surviving the worst brunt of pandemic. Among the G-7 countries, it has suffered from the lowest fatality toll with just over 2,000 deaths so far. On the other hand, the United States is recording nearly 1,500 fatalities due to coronavirus per day.
Prime Minister Suga, while bringing the Bill for passage in the Parliament, said the government will vaccinate the "people of country" by first half of 2021. It was not apparently clear whether the foreign residents based in Japan would also be covered under the free immunisation programme.
While the Japanese government is committed towards mass vaccination, the residents may not be en-masse in favour of being incolculated. A recent Ipsos survey, conducted in the month of October, found only 69 percent of Japan's population in favour of being provided the vaccine, as against the global rate of 73 percent.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 02, 2020 10:23 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).