In the press review of Wednesday, May 12, we will discuss: the parliament which wants to open an agency to accelerate digitization, adolescents between 12 and 15 years old who will be vaccinated and the vaccination for Japanese Olympic athletes which should start the month. next.

Creation of a digitalization agency

Japan’s parliament on Wednesday passed a set of laws to create a new government agency in September, as the country seeks to accelerate digitization. The Prime Minister’s government, Yoshihide Suga, hopes to speed up digitization in central and local administrations in order to improve the quality of services, after the novel coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the difficulties caused by a delay in this area. Within the framework of the legislation on digitization which has been adopted, the Japan will reorganize the IT systems of central and local administrations and introduce common national rules to protect personal information. The agency will also be responsible for taking privacy measures, as the legislation will stimulate the exchange of personal information, which could lead to data leaks and other risks. Since taking office last September, the Suga government has given high priority to digital reforms. Indeed, Japan has long struggled to promote administrative reforms using information technology, even though it has been working to improve the situation since the 2000s.

12-15 year olds will be vaccinated

Japan has started making arrangements to allow adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 to be vaccinated against COVID-19, against a background of an increase in the number of infections among young people. Currently, a vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and his German partner BioNTech is the only product authorized for Japan, and so far it has only been given to people aged 16 and over, with priority for caregivers and the elderly. The Chief Secretary to the Cabinet, Katsunobu Kato, told a press conference that Pfizer was in talks with Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency to expand the use of its vaccine. “If the efficacy and safety of administration to adolescents is confirmed, the guidelines will be changed” to allow vaccination of under-16s, Kato said. A health ministry official said the benefit of vaccinating 12-15 year olds, to reduce the risk of infection, will be significant against the backdrop of the spread of variants of the highly transmissible coronavirus.

Olympic athletes turn next month

The distribution of doses of coronavirus vaccine to Japanese competitors of Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will start next month. The Japanese Olympic Committee is working with national sports organizations to conduct a survey to determine when their athletes can receive the vaccines. The survey predicts that sports organizations will vaccinate their athletes in June and July. Some organizations have sent questionnaires to athletes to assess desired dates for vaccination, while others have already informed the committee their dates, which are based on the athletes’ training schedules. Some athletes made it clear that they would be vaccinated so as not to embarrass those around them, while others would consider not getting the vaccine for fear of being weakened. Tamayo Marukawa, the minister in charge of Tokyo games, said that among the athletes who will represent Japan, around 1,000 are expected to be vaccinated. The implementation schedule and other details are expected to be finalized depending on vaccine availability, the sources said.

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