Photo/Illutration Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato at a news conference on July 12 (Koichi Ueda)

Local governments will start accepting applications from July 26 for COVID-19 “vaccine passports” that certify holders have been inoculated against the virus if they are planning to travel overseas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announced the development at a July 12 news conference.

The move comes on the heels of calls, particularly from the business community, for vaccine passports as the United States and Europe are taking steps to require proof of inoculation against the novel coronavirus from arriving travelers.

Kato said proof of vaccination will be issued only for people who expect to visit countries and territories where quarantine procedures will be eased if evidence of vaccination is presented.

The documentation will come in written form stating when the individual received his or her vaccine shot, the type of vaccine administered and where, among other information.

It will be provided at no charge for the time being.

Those seeking proof will be required to submit an application and their regular passport to their local governments where their residence certificate is registered at the time they receive their jab.

Kato said the government is not contemplating using vaccination proof for activities inside Japan.

“It would be inappropriate if the availability of vaccine passports led to enforcing vaccinations or to discrimination against unvaccinated people,” he said.

However, he indicated that the government may consider giving preferential treatment to those who opt to get vaccinated.