Government of Japan adopts SMART® Health Card as digital vaccine credential

Dec 17, 2021

PRESS RELEASE: Government of Japan adopts SMART® Health Card as digital vaccine credential

Dec 17, 2021

The Japanese government announced its adoption of SMART® Health Cards, an international standard for digital health records. SMART® Health Cards will be issued beginning on December 20, and will serve as the national standard for digital vaccine certificates, both for domestic and overseas use. The Japanese government worked in partnership with The Commons Project Foundation (TCP), whose mission is to build digital infrastructure and services to serve the common good, to make SMART® Health Cards available and enable the verification of the credential via the free SMART® Health Card Verifier App. The collaboration between the Japanese government and TCP has led to this milestone for people in Japan, who will now have access to a vaccine credential that can be recognized internationally and easily verified in a privacy preserving manner for free by domestic venues such as bars and restaurants.

SMART® Health Cards were developed by VCI, a global coalition of public and private stakeholders including Apple, Microsoft, Cigna, MITRE, the Mayo Clinic and more from various industries with the goal of empowering individuals with access to a trustworthy and verifiable copy of their vaccination records in digital or paper form. With the digital vaccine credential, citizens can share their vaccination status with trusted third parties in a privacy preserving way.

SMART® Health Cards enable individuals to store their vaccine records securely  on smartphones and share this information as they see fit. Developed in accordance with HL7 FHIR, an international standard for handling sensitive medical information,  SMART® Health Cards can also be used to certify vaccination records beyond COVID-19 and can be generalized to other health data such as prescriptions.

SMART® Health Cards have been officially adopted by the Canadian government as the standard for digital vaccine certificates and have become the de-facto standard in the United States. The Japanese business community, travel industry, and medical institutions that have been greatly affected by the pandemic have also expressed their support for SMART® Health Cards.


Tomoko Hasegawa, Managing Director of KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation)

“We welcome the initiative by the Japanese government to digitize vaccination certificates. For Japanese companies active globally, restrictions on cross-border movement of people have severe impacts on their business. To revitalize the global economy through trade and investment, it is urgent to ensure safe border traffic that prevents the spread of infection. It is also essential to establish a system for border traffic that can be managed in a digital format, guaranteeing authenticity and achieving efficiency of procedures. We hope that the digitalization of vaccination certificates will be promoted so that they can be used seamlessly both abroad and at home, accelerating international traffic and reinvigorating business.”

Jenifer Rogers, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ)

"The SMART® Health Card is a widely accepted international standard in North America (the United States of America and Canada), which is one of the most important markets for Japan economically and in terms of international exchange. The SMART® Health Card has a high degree of built-in versatility and interoperability with other systems, and over 150 million Americans have access to their SMART® Health Card certificates," said ACCJ President Jenifer Rogers.

"The emergence of new COVID-19 variants has raised concerns that there may be a delayed recovery of social and economic activities. For a speedy and safe restart of activities, it is imperative to prioritize digitization of certificates for  vaccination and PCR test results. In this context, we very much welcome the adoption of SMART® Health Cards as one among multiple standards for digital vaccine certificates to facilitate the safe resumption of international travel that is vital to Japan's economy," added Rogers.

Tadashi Shimura, President of Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA)

“First issued in July in Japan on paper, the vaccination certificate has been revised to include a QR code, which is expected to speed up various procedures such as airport check-in and immigration. In addition, the electronic application and issuance of vaccination certificates using smartphones will make it easier for people to obtain the certificates, leading to an increase in human flow. Furthermore, the adoption of SMART® Health Cards, also written in Japanese, will make it easier for domestic and North American visitors to Japan to use the system. The travel industry hopes that these will help revitalize regional activity in Japan.”

Norio Ohmagari, Director of Disease Control and Prevention Center , National Center for Global Health and Medicine

“A person’s health information is one’s own. Still, in reality, it is distributed in the medical records of institutions and cannot be freely retrieved and utilized by oneself. As a result, a great deal of inconvenience is caused. Therefore, it would be very beneficial if health information could be used in various places based on one's own will. The adoption of SMART® Health Cards as a vaccine certificate issued by the Japanese government will  improve the convenience of utilizing personal health information by standardizing it.”

Naoki Nakashima, President of Japan Association for Medical Informatics

“There is a strong need for digital proof of COVID-19 health status, not only for international travel, but also for domestic use such as participating in events. At the same time, COVID-19 is not a special disease but one of many infectious ones, and detailed information included in the digital certificate (vaccine type and history, test type and results, mutant strain type and history, etc.) should be utilized effectively for other infectious diseases as well . Furthermore, the mutual influence of underlying diseases and medications being taken is also significant. Therefore, for personal information protection, digital certification should be one of the functions of personal health records to manage personal health medical information. When implemented in the HL7 FHIR-based PHR, which the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recommends, the PHR will gain the strong need for digital proof and promote its overall development. Then a digital proof will be able to provide its high functionality.”

About The Commons Project

The Commons Project Foundation (“TCP”) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that builds and operates digital platforms and services for the common good. TCP was established in 2019 to create digital public infrastructure to fill the void left by tech companies and to reduce the burdens of governments. Since its founding, TCP has built a suite of digital products that operationalize the infrastructure of interoperable data standards (i.e., SMART® Health Card Verifier App) and empower users with access to their health data (i.e., CommonHealth). TCP also co-created VCI, a broad coalition of public and private organizations dedicated to providing access to verifiable health records to people around the globe.

TCP’s Japan secretariat office has been established within the International House of Japan (I-House), and I-House Director Hiroaki Miyata (Professor, Keio University) is serving as Chair of the TCP Japan Board. I-House Chairman James Kondo is also a Global Trustee of TCP.

To learn more about The Commons Project Foundation, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter (@commons_prjct). For general inquiries, email

Media Contact:

Alex Newby

120/80 MKTG on behalf of The Commons Project Foundation

The Commons Project Japan Board

Chair: Hiroaki Miyata, Professor, Keio University School of Medicine

Board Members:

  • Norio Ohmagari, Director of Disease Control and Prevention Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine
  • James Kondo, Chairman of the International House of Japan
  • Akihisa Shiozaki, Lawyer
  • Haruyuki Seki, Representative Director, Code for Japan
  • Naoki Hosoda, Program Director, NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation
  • Ryoji Mori (Partner Lawyer, Cyber Law Japan Eichi Law Office)
  • Teruko Wada, Director, International Affairs Bureau of KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation)


  • Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings
  • Yoichi Funabashi, Chairman of Asia Pacific Initiative
  • Jun Murai, Professor of Keio University


  • All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.
  • The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ)
  • Asia Pacific Initiative
  • Information Technology Federation of Japan (IT renmei)
  • Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.
  • Japan Association of Corporate Executive (Doyukai)
  • Japan Association for Medical Informatics (Nihon IryoJoho Gakkai)
  • Japan Association of New Economy (Shinkeiren)
  • Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA)
  • Japan Business Federation (Keidanren)
  • Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nihon Shoko Kaigisho)
  • Japanese Society of Laboratory Medicine (Nihon Rinsho Kensa Igakkai)
  • Japan Tourism Association (Nihon Kanko Shinko Kyokai)
  • The Scheduled Airlines Association (Teiki Koku Kyokai)
  • Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research