More than 50 percent of Japan's population has been fully immunized against COVID-19, government data showed Monday, with the vaccination rate catching up with countries such as the United States.
Of the nation's population of 125 million, about 64 million people, or 50.9 percent, had received both jabs of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, after the inoculation program was launched in February initially for health care workers and expanded to the elderly and later to other members of the public.
Over 60 percent of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of September, bringing Japan on par with major European countries such as Britain and France, according to the government.
The government has been accelerating the pace of inoculating younger people, as it aims to finish vaccinating all eligible people who wish to receive shots by November.
While Japan's health care system remains under strain due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the government plans to relax curbs on traveling and large events from around November once most of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Japan initially lagged far behind other major economies in inoculating its population. Facing criticism, the government has made relatively fast progress since.
In the United States, about 53 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated as of early September, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.