Japan’s Prime Minister Announces Release of 30 Million Doses of Vaccines to Control China’s Vaccine Diplomacy

Japan and the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (Gavi) co-hosted the online COVAX Global Vaccine Summit today, which was attended by more than 40 major countries and regions, including the United States and the European Union. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the summit that he would provide US$800 million (approximately NT$22.3 billion) in support of equitable access to vaccines in developing countries, and that the 30 million doses of vaccines already secured in Japan would be made available to other countries and regions through COVAX. It is generally believed that this is a “vaccine diplomacy” launched by the U.S. and Japan to confront China.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported that in his speech, Kan emphasized that “vaccine access depends on the country’s situation and economic power, and this is totally unacceptable.

The meeting, chaired by Japan, was attended by Prime Minister Kan and Foreign Minister Toshimichi Motegi, and was attended by about 40 countries, including U.S. Vice President He Jinli and European Union Executive Committee President von der Leyen and seven other major industrialized nations (G7). Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, also attended as a representative of a charitable foundation.

According to information released by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, COVAX is scheduled to provide 1.8 billion doses of vaccine to developing countries by the end of 2021, accounting for about 30% of the global population, with a total estimated funding requirement of $8.3 billion. Japan has already donated $200 million, and today it added another $800 million, for a total of $1 billion, a contribution second only to the U.S. contribution of $2.5 billion, according to the Japan Current Affairs Newsletter.

Japan signed a contract with UK AZ for 120 million doses of vaccine, of which 30 million doses are already in filled packages and another 90 million doses will be produced domestically in Japan. Since Japan has procured enough Pfizer and Modena vaccines to administer to the Japanese population, Japan decided to provide the extra vaccine to other countries. The Japanese government has already stated recently that it will provide Taiwan AZ vaccine.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported that Kan said at today’s meeting that 30 million doses of vaccine made in Japan will be provided to other countries and regions through COVAX. In terms of vaccine supply, the United States has also stated that it will release 80 million doses from stock, and France and Germany will each release 30 million doses this year.

According to the report, China is using “vaccine diplomacy” to provide its own vaccines to strengthen its influence, and Japan and the U.S. are calling on countries to unite in support of developing countries by leading vaccine support to keep China in check.