Discounts for vaccinated people spread to restaurants and hotels across Japan

Restaurants, hotels and even wedding venues have started offering discounts to guests fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of efforts to revive the economy after the pandemic.

While the efforts may encourage more people to get the vaccine, some warn that such discounts could cause people reluctant to receive the vaccine to come under peer pressure.

“I want things to get back to the days before the pandemic as quickly as possible,” said Toshiyuki Fujimura, 54-year-old deputy director of a yakiniku Grilled meat restaurant in Nagoya, which offers up to 3,000 ($ 27) of out-of-service meals to customers who show proof of vaccination.

Yuka Torii, a 47-year-old midwife, was happy to use the discount, saying the initiative will inspire more people to get vaccinated and “make the world a little better.”

The Tourism Federation of Fujikawaguchiko, a town in Yamanashi Prefecture near Mount Fuji, has also started offering discounts at 30 of its member stores for fully vaccinated people. Offers include 10% off entrance fees as well as food and drink expenses.

“Our goal is to encourage more people to come and go sightseeing and get vaccinated,” a staff member said.

Unzen Onsen Azumaen, a ryokan (traditional Japanese hostel) in Nagasaki Prefecture, distributed vouchers to be used in its on-site shop to those who were vaccinated.

The discounts helped gradually increase bookings after the establishment had to be temporarily closed at some point in the wake of the virus outbreak, he said.

A grilled meat restaurant in Nagoya offers discounts to customers who can prove they have been vaccinated. | KYODO

Meanwhile, Garden Place Kobayashiro, a wedding venue in Niigata Prefecture, has started a cash back program where newlyweds can receive 3,000 for each guest who has been vaccinated.

Yusuke Nakada and Saki Inozume, who plan to host their wedding in September, said about a third of their invitation list would be eligible for the money.

“We have a lot of older parents so that will give us some comfort,” said the couple, both 26.

Meanwhile, some people remain reluctant to take the vaccine due to mistrust of the side effects and possible risks, and concerns have been expressed that such reductions could cause some people to feel forced to be vaccinated.

Goodluck Promotion Co., a concert planning company based in Okayama Prefecture, said it did not openly announce its reimbursement program for those vaccinated because of “diverse opinions” on the matter.

In late July, local governments began accepting requests for so-called vaccine passports certifying that people traveling abroad are vaccinated against COVID-19, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has maintained a cautious stance on to their use in Japan because of concerns that they will cause “unfair discrimination.”

“Vaccination is based on an individual’s free will,” said Kenta Yamada, professor of media law and journalism at Senshu University. “We must not create a society where those who do not get vaccinated feel guilty or the losers. We must be careful not to encourage peer pressure through vaccine rebate programs. “

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