Japan boosts vaccine support for foreigners

Japan's Immigration Services Agency has launched a new drive to speed up coronavirus vaccinations among foreign nationals, including language assistance.

The move follows reports of a slow pace of inoculations among foreigners, with many unable to make appointments due to language barriers or difficulties obtaining vaccination vouchers.

The agency's Foreign Residents Support Center in Tokyo on Monday began offering telephone assistance in 18 languages for vaccine appointments. Inoculations are available at hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

For those who are not registered as residents, the agency will inform local municipalities of their addresses so that vouchers can be issued.

Agency officials said they hoped to promote the vaccine rollout among foreigners as well as provide necessary support for municipalities.

According to the center's website, it accepts vaccination appointments via this phone number: 03-4332-2601.

Assistance on how to obtain vaccination vouchers from municipalities is also offered at another number: 0120-76-2029.

Business hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, for both numbers.

Available languages are Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Khmer, Nepali, Indonesian, Burmese, Mongolian, French, Sinhalese, Urdu and Bengali.