Kobe City, Kobe University, Rakuten and partners open COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Vissel Kobe home stadium

The government of Japan has set a target of one million vaccinations per day in order to ensure that every citizen aged 65 and above has received their shots by the end of July. In the first collaboration of its kind in Japan, Rakuten is working together with partners from private industry, academia and the government to launch a vaccination program designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 as quickly and efficiently as possible – and serve as a model for other institutions across Japan.

“We can’t be confined by conventional frameworks. The national government, local government, the private sector and academia need to work together as one to tackle this issue.”

MICKEY MIKITANI, CHAIRMAN & CEO, RAKUTEN GROUP, INC.

The vaccination rollout is an essential part of returning to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity. As a private-sector company, Rakuten is keen to support—and even accelerate—this process in every way possible. New breakthroughs are often prompted by new ways of thinking, and innovation occurs when national and local governments work together with private industry and academia.

Alongside a growing list of 10+ partners that include the government of Kobe City, Kobe University, Kobe University Hospital, Jikei University School of Medicine Department of Surgery, SBC Medical Group and more, Rakuten has launched a new mass vaccination center at Noevir Stadium Kobe, home of the Rakuten-owned J.League professional soccer club, Vissel Kobe.

Posters of Vissel Kobe stars offer words of encouragement to vaccine recipients. 
Posters of Vissel Kobe stars offer words of encouragement to vaccine recipients.

Staging the initiative at such a spacious venue allows for the quick and efficient vaccination of large groups of people, with capacity planned to gradually increase to reach 5,000 people per day.

Vaccination appointments opened for reservation on May 22, and vaccinations began on May 31. At a joint press conference hosted by Kobe City mayor Kizo Hisamoto, Rakuten Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani called this landmark collaboration a “social mission.” He went on to comment, “This is, so to speak, a fight against the virus. We can’t be confined by conventional frameworks. The national government, local government, the private sector and academia need to work together as one to tackle this issue.”

Drawing on a variety of expertise to take on unique challenges

To coordinate a program of this scale, teamwork and consistent coordination are essential. To that end, each of the participating organizations has a unique role to play. The government of Kobe City is acting as supervisor, directing the overall vaccination operation. From the academic and medical sectors, Kobe University Hospital, SBC Medical, Jikei University’s Surgery Department and a growing list of medical institutions are dispatching doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other staff and medical personnel throughout the week, and are responsible for administering vaccinations.

Unprecedented challenges call for unique solutions, and empowering society is always a collaborative effort.

Rakuten is working closely with Kobe City to ensure the smooth deployment of every step of the plan, and Rakuten Medical is coordinating with medical institutions and personnel. These organizations will cooperate to solve whatever logistic challenges may arise as this ambitious project moves forward.

Offering medical expertise and tips for efficiency, Kobe University Hospital and SBC Medical are also advising on the rollout of vaccination operations. In addition to offering up Noevir Stadium for this project, Vissel Kobe is providing facilities and support staff, including team doctors and other medical personnel.

The mass vaccination center in Kobe features the first-ever online pre-screening system for COVID-19 vaccinations in Japan.
The mass vaccination center in Kobe features the first-ever online pre-screening system for COVID-19 vaccinations in Japan.

While Noevir Stadium serves as the focal point of the operation, other local venues in the area will also be brought onboard, with plans in place to collaborate with local medical institutions and other organizations in order to develop a more robust vaccination system.

A vaccination project of this scope and scale has never before been attempted in Japan, but Rakuten and the many partners involved are confident in their ability to provide a valuable community service. Unprecedented challenges call for unique solutions, and empowering society is always a collaborative effort.

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