A woman gets a COVID vaccination.
COVID vaccinations have not been banned in Japan. Image by AP PHOTO

No, Japan hasn’t banned COVID-19 vaccines

David Williams April 2, 2024

Japan has banned COVID-19 vaccines because of soaring deaths.


False. Japan's health ministry is still offering COVID vaccines.

There are claims Japan has banned COVID-19 vaccines because of soaring sudden deaths in the nation.

This is false. COVID vaccines are still available in the country and the Japanese health ministry says there is no scientific evidence vaccination has caused excess deaths.

The claim was made in an Instagram post (archived here) from an Australian user on March 26, which includes a screenshot of an article from a conspiracy website.

“Japan has just banned Covid mRNA shots for public use and called on other nations to follow suit after an official government study tied the injections to the nation’s soaring sudden deaths,” the post claims.

A screenshot of the Instagram post.
 Social media posts are spreading lies about Japan’s vaccination program. 

The article says studies in Japan have linked “soaring deaths to Covid injections” and makes specific mention of “the latest study” that has “sent shock waves through the global scientific community as it shows that dangerous contaminations in shots are not only affecting those who have received injections”.

The claim is also made on X by a former UK Brexit Party parliamentary candidate, which has contributed to it going viral.

The claims are fiction.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website still has instructions on how to get COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots.

These include Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines, approved for people over 12 and children from five to 11 years old, as well as the Moderna and Novavax vaccines.

The only recent change to COVID vaccinations in Japan is the health ministry ending public subsidies on March 31.

A Q&A page on the health ministry website (English translation) directly addresses the claim in the Instagram post and source article about excess deaths.

It says there have been only two cases in which a causal relationship to vaccination cannot be ruled out as causing someone’s death and studies found “‘there was no significant increase in the risk of death after vaccination (mRNA type)”.

A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer vaccine (file image)
 Japan has stopped subsidising COVID vaccines. 

It says excess deaths were confirmed in some prefectures (regions) during the pandemic, but a health ministry research team reported this was before COVID vaccinations were rolled out.

“There is currently no scientific evidence that vaccination has caused excess deaths.”

The Instagram post and source article also refer to “the most recent study” that claims “scientists have found that Covid mRNA vaccines have now contaminated Japan’s blood transfusion stock due to vaccinated people giving blood”.

That “study” is not official government research as claimed. It is a preprint paper titled “Concerns regarding Transfusions of Blood Products Derived from Genetic Vaccine Recipients and Proposals for Specific Measures“.

Preprint means it has not been peer reviewed and has not been published in a scientific or medical journal.

It calls for the vaccination program to be suspended while a harm-benefit assessment can be carried out on the impact on blood products, but has no official status.

A person donates blood (file image)
 Vaccinated people can still donate blood in Japan. 

The paper has been used in separate claims to say Japan is going to ban vaccinated people from donating “tainted” blood, such as here, here, here and here.

These posts link to an article from a misinformation-spreading website. That article sources the claim to the preprint paper and a separate article from another website known for publishing misinformation

However, neither of these articles claim Japan is going to ban vaccinated people from giving blood, only that researchers have called for the vaccination program to be suspended.

Japanese public health expert Sharon Hanley, from Aberdeen University, said claims based on the preprint paper were not scientifically proven, as it was not peer-reviewed or recommended for publication by experts.

“The authors are not experts in vaccine safety or how to assess vaccine safety,” Dr Hanley said.

“Since this is neither a published paper, nor a paper written by experts in the field, I think it is highly unlikely it would be on the government’s current list of things to consider.”

The Japanese health ministry did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

The Verdict

The claim that Japan has banned COVID-19 vaccines because of soaring deaths is false.

Japan’s health ministry still offers several vaccines, including mRNA vaccines, and states excess deaths have not been linked to the vaccines.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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