Japan has never enforced a Covid-19 vaccine mandate

19 January 2022
What was claimed

Japan has dropped Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

Our verdict

Japan never enforced a Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Its government websites clearly state vaccination is encouraged but optional.

What was claimed

Myocarditis has been listed on Covid-19 vaccine labels in Japan as a potential side effect.

Our verdict

This is true. However, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare says the chances of contracting it are “extremely rare”.

An Instagram post claims: “Japan drops all vaccine mandates, places myocarditis warning on label”. It appears to be talking about Covid-19 vaccines, as the caption of the post mentions the UK “rollout” and consideration of whether to vaccinate five to 11 year-olds.

The post is only partly correct.

Full Fact spoke to a number of Japanese fact checkers who confirmed that myocarditis was listed as a side effect on Covid-19 vaccine labels in Japan. 

FactCheck Initiative Japan said: “There are Myocarditis and Pericarditis warnings on both Japanese vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna which was revised on December 2021.”

An English translation of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) states: “Although extremely rare, mild cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported after vaccination.

“If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or swelling within a few days after vaccination, please visit a medical institution immediately.”

However Japan has not enforced a vaccine mandate. 

As stated by fact checkers AFP Fact Check, Japanese immunisation law was amended in 1994 to prevent the mandatory enforcement of vaccines. 

This translation of the 1948 Immunization Act states that vaccine recipients “must endeavor” to undergo routine vaccination against category A diseases (which include polio, measles and rubella) but does not enforce that request. 

In respect of Covid-19 vaccines, the MHLW adds: “Although we encourage all citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, it is not compulsory or mandatory.

“Vaccination will be given only with the consent of the person to be vaccinated after the information provided.”

It also states that people who have not been vaccinated should not be discriminated against.

The same advice appears on archived versions of the MHLW site.

Other fact checkers such as Politifact in the USA have also debunked similar claims about mandatory vaccines in Japan.

Photo courtesy of J. Damasio, licensed under CC BY 2.0

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