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Japan stepping up vaccine diplomacy to counter Chinese influence

  • June 19, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 5:27 p.m.
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Tokyo, June 19 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government is stepping up its COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy to counter China’s move to strengthen its influence by supplying Chinese-developed vaccines to developing countries.


Japan shipped COVID-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam on Wednesday, its second case after a shipment to Taiwan. The government plans to provide vaccine doses to more member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.


“We emphasize speediness in sending (vaccine doses) directly to countries where the pandemic situation is very severe,” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press conference on Tuesday.


Asked about the government’s plan to provide vaccine doses to ASEAN countries, Motegi said, “They are very important countries for our initiative to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”


Japan offers bilateral vaccination support to countries and regions with close ties, besides its support for developing countries under the COVAX international vaccine procurement scheme.


The government plans to produce at home and supply to other countries and regions a total of 30 million doses of British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine.


The government is preparing to ship vaccine doses to Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia in early July or later.


Meanwhile, Japan and Australia agreed in their foreign ministers’ telephone talks on June 9 to cooperate in providing vaccines to developing countries.


Under the agreement, Japan will prioritize vaccination support for Asian economies, while Australia, as well as France, is strengthening its support for Pacific island nations.


“We take charge of different regions” to efficiently counter China’s vaccine diplomacy, a Japanese government source said.

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