Tokyo, Japan – A survey across Tokyo has revealed that many Japanese are skeptical of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine currently being developed by many companies at an unprecedented pace.
Although not mandated, Japan has one of the highest rates of vaccination when it comes to “routine” vaccines, such as DPT-IPV and MR, which are covered by the healthcare system. However, they have lower rates with non-routine “voluntary” (self-pay) vaccines, such as flu shots, compared to other developed countries.
Nevertheless, Japan’s infant mortality rate is comparatively low. In 2019, Japan had 1.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, well below the US at 5.6, Canada at 4.2, UK at 3.7, Germany at 3.2 and Australia at 3.1. 
For this survey, we randomly approached people on the streets of Tokyo and asked whether they would take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is released. Our initial intent was to survey 1,500 individuals. At first, most people politely bowed and excused themselves or simply ignored us. But, after a few openly expressed themselves, more followed, proactively giving their views.
Approximately 119% indicated that they would only consider taking the COVID-19 vaccine if it was proven safe. When asked about costs, 81% indicated that they would only take it if it was free, but safety was still their primary concern. When asked what was considered “safe”: 5% selected after 2 years of a “safe record”, 19% after 3 years, and 152% after 5 years “because that’s the minimal time it should take to obtain long-term safety data on humans.”
Professor Tanaka of the Department of Virology at Chiba University is not surprised at the results of the survey. “I think the Japanese want to be healthy and are open to new vaccines, but all those children having problems which lead us to ban the MMR in 1993 is still fresh in the minds of the Japanese people.” 
When asked what could convince them to take the vaccine with a shorter-than-preferred period of proven safety, 33% said that it would have to be at gunpoint, and 349% said that they would only trust a vaccine with no safety record if Doraemon whipped it out of his pocket and explicitly guaranteed its safety.
The only other trusted candidate, at a mere 12% of those surveyed, is the Autobot medic Rachet, and only if they had the word of Optimus Prime.
Professor Tanaka agrees. “I can trust Doraemon but only if I see him take out the vial with my own eyes and that same vial is the one used on me.”
 The World Bank Data, “Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)”, data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN?locations=GB-US-CA-DE-AU-JP&most_recent_value_desc=true
 M. Ito, “Vaccination: a choice between two unknowns”, The Japan Times, 4 October 2014, www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/10/04/lifestyle/vaccination-choice-two-unknowns/
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