Japan on Monday started accepting applications for what it called “vaccine passports” to make international travel easier amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We consider it to be an important tool in resuming international travel going forward,” the Japanese government’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

Locals and foreign nationals made beelines outside the local municipality offices in the capital Tokyo, where applications from people fully inoculated against COVID-19 were accepted to travel internationally.

Businesses in the country had strongly lobbied to introduce the vaccine passport to help facilitate business activities, Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

Italy, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Poland have agreed with Japan to ease coronavirus quarantine rules for the Japanese certificate holders, while South Korea will also accept them as one of the documents needed to exempt holders from quarantine requirements, according to the Japanese government.

Kato, however, asked Japanese people to “refrain from applying for the certificate unless they have plans to travel abroad to prevent a flood of applications.”

International travel was a major hit due to the pandemic after governments closed their borders to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

Japan has reported 862,148 COVID-19 cases, including 15,116 deaths, since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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