TAIPEI — Taiwanese newspapers on Friday ran front-page articles on Japan’s plan to provide Taiwan with about 1.24 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc, saying the move reflects the friendship between the two neighbors.
The vaccines will be flown to the self-ruled island later in the day, according to Japanese government sources. Taiwan has struggled to procure shots for its population amid a sudden surge in coronavirus cases, blaming China for difficulties in securing them.
The Liberty Times praised Japan for demonstrating its “guts” in the face of Chinese “threats,” saying that senior Taiwanese officials such as President Tsai Ing-wen had been holding talks with Japan in a bid to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
According to the newspaper, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe encouraged the government of his successor Yoshihide Suga to provide Taiwan with the vaccine, saying, “What Taiwan needs is speed.”
Taiwanese newspapers also reported that the United States will provide 7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to Asia through the U.N.-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program.
Taiwan has been grappling with a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases since May. China regards the democratic island as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.
Japan has approved the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the country does not intend to use it immediately due to rare cases of blood clots being reported overseas, according to its health ministry.