Outgoing Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has made many of the same mistakes during the battle against COVID-19 as President Trump: After botching the handling of the "Diamond Princess" by allowing quarantines to be violated and the infection to spread, the Japanese government never followed up with stringent restrictions. Japan's constitution forbids the type of lockdowns seen in Europe, China and the US. The state of emergency adopted by the government wasn't nearly as robust a measure as what other countries tried.
And yet, Japan has a relatively low rate of infection. None of this really makes sense, considering that Japan's aged population consumes more adult diapers per year than infant diapers. Still, in an effort to quell fears, the Japanese government is reportedly planning to offer a COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to any citizen who wants one, according to a report from Nikkei.
People at high risk of developing severe symptoms, particularly the elderly and health care workers, will receive first priority. The full cost will be covered in the national budget, meaning the central government will pay, saving local authorities from shouldering any expense. Exactly how the program will work will be decided by a panel of 'experts' convened by the Japanese government.
Currently, the Japanese government is negotiating with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and others, as it seeks to build a massive stockpile of vaccines. The country's goal is to eradicate the virus in Japan long before the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.