Japan’s booking platform for Covid vaccine appointment crashes as Tokyo struggles to kick-start inoculation program

Japan’s platform for booking Covid-19 vaccinations has crashed in parts of the country because of a technical issue with US cloud computing vendor Salesforce, compounding frustration with the government’s handling of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Salesforce experienced a global outage, described by chief technology officer Parker Harris as a “major disruption,” crippling Japan’s online booking platform for Covid-19 shots, which is using the US technology. 

The booking system crashed in a number of places around the country, including parts of Tokyo and the western city of Minoh. One frustrated Twitter user suggested the government make it possible to get vaccinated without having to register for an appointment online.

Three hours after his first tweet, Harris posted that service were “significantly restored,” but added “we are still not out of impact.”  

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Japan’s inoculation program against Covid-19 has faltered, with only 2.8% of its population having received a jab to date – far below other wealthy nations. Despite supply problems, the government still maintains the ambitious target of inoculating the country’s 36 million elderly people by July.

The government has faced several technical challenges during the pandemic, including a Covid-19 warning app that, because of a bug, failed to pass on many notifications of suspected contact with people infected with the virus. 

On Tuesday, it was reported that Japan was seeing more people die at home from Covid-19 as hospitals operate at full capacity. 

Despite the virus and mounting internal opposition, the country is due to host the Olympic Games in July and August.

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