Business community eager for swift introduction of vaccine certificates

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An ANA employee checks a passenger’s smartphone during a trial of the company’s CommonPass digital health certificate app at Haneda Airport on March 29.

The business community is urging the government to hasten the introduction of vaccine certificates, which is thought to be an effective way to balance infection prevention and economic activity.

The government will soon launch a study to evaluate the feasibility of the certificates, which include vaccination records and PCR test results among other information.

Vaccine certificates are often used as a measure to screen entrants at airports.

Dubbed vaccine passports, the certificates have been used in Israel and China, among other countries, as well as the state of New York, and the European Union will start using them in July. In some countries, it is mandatory to present the certificates when going to events or such places as gyms.

In the travel and airline industries, which have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, hopes are high that the certificates will be introduced swiftly.

At an online press conference on May 28, Eijiro Yamakita, president of major travel agency JTB Corp., said the certificates “would be very effective for cross-border travel.” He was hopeful that travel demand would recover if restrictions on domestic and international travel were eased following the introduction of the certificates.

Major airlines have been implementing measures ahead of the anticipated launch of vaccine certificates.

In March, All Nippon Airways Co. began a trial of an app, dubbed CommonPass, which can display the negative test results. Passengers on international flights will present their smartphones when going through boarding procedures.

After having the certificate checked at the boarding counter, the app will provide such information as self-isolation requirements at the destination. The company also aims to enable the app to display vaccine certificates. Japan Airlines Co. is taking a similar approach.

Staff at trading companies and manufacturers have been holding meetings with overseas counterparts online when travel was not practical.

“There are times when not being able to travel back and forth causes delays in business. Some things need to be discussed or confirmed in person,” said an automotive executive.

The Japan Business Federation has been urging the government to consider standardizing certificates in line with those being rolled out in other countries.