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• Japan never implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The country has not had any compulsory vaccinations since 1994.
• Japan leads the Group of Seven developed nations in COVID-19 vaccination rates.
An article shared on social media falsely claims that Japan pulled the plug on compulsory COVID-19 vaccines.
"Japan Drops All Vaxxine Mandates, Places Myocarditis Warning on Label," said the headline on an article from Brisbane National Review. The article was shared on Facebook and was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The headline gives the misleading impression that Japan rescinded a vaccine mandate because of concerns over myocarditis. That’s not the case.
Japan never implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the first place. The country has not had any compulsory vaccinations at all since 1994. And with 80% of its population having received two doses of coronavirus vaccine, Japan leads the Group of Seven developed nations in COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Japan’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout was slow compared with its Western counterparts; vaccination of senior citizens began in mid-April 2021, and eligibility for others began in late June. But as of Jan. 10, 2022, the nation of 126 million people had administered 210 million doses, according to the prime minister’s office. Booster shots began in December, starting with medical personnel.
"Although we encourage all citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, it is not compulsory or mandatory," according to the government’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website.
Prior to its successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Japan was known for very low levels of public trust in vaccines. The country has not had any compulsory vaccinations since 1994, when it revised its vaccination law following a court ruling that held the government liable for adverse reactions to some vaccines.
"Forged in the aftermath of World War II, Japan’s Constitution enshrines civil liberties," the Japan Times reported. "For practical purposes, that means it hasn’t deployed lockdowns or compulsory mask rules as part of its pandemic approach. It’s taken the same approach to vaccination, with the health ministry discouraging discrimination against the unvaccinated and shot requirements in the workplace."
The article shared on Facebook also said that Japan had placed a myocarditis warning on vaccine labels, which is accurate. The action came in early December, months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did the same in response to rare incidences of heart inflammation in people receiving mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Experts have said that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the small risk of myocarditis.
An article headline said, "Japan Drops All Vaxxine Mandates, Places Myocarditis Warning on Label."
The headline gives the misleading impression that Japan rescinded an existing vaccine mandate because of concerns over myocarditis. That’s not the case.
Japan placed myocarditis warnings on vaccine labels in December, but it never implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and has no compulsory vaccinations at all.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
American Heart Association Newsroom, "Study finds benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh risks of rare cases of myocarditis," July 20, 2021
Associated Press, "Japan vaccination uncertainty casts doubts over Olympics," Jan. 22, 2021
Brisbane National Review, "Japan Drops All Vaxxine Mandates, Places Myocarditis Warning on Label," Jan. 6, 2022
Japan Times, "Japan leads the G7 in COVID shots without a mandate in sight," Nov. 17, 2021
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, "COVID-19 vaccines," accessed Jan. 12, 2022
NHK World Japan, "Japan’s booster rollout gathers pace," Dec. 22, 2021
Our World in Data, "Japan: What share of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19?" accessed Jan. 12, 2022
PolitiFact, "Japan is still vaccinating people against COVID-19," Oct. 29, 2021
Prie Minister of Japan and His Cabinet, "Novel Coronavirus Vaccines," accessed Jan. 11, 2022
Statistics Bureau of Japan, "Statistical Handbook of Japan 2021," accessed Jan. 12, 2022
The Asahi Shimbun, "Study: Japan among countries with lowest trust levels in vaccines," Sept. 29, 2021
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update," June 25, 2021
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