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Image: SoraNews24

Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Capitalization makes a big difference. For example, an announcement that there will be no more cocoa would, of course, be cause for despair for anyone with a love of hot, sweet beverages. On the other hand, hearing that COCOA is ending could be taken as a positive development.

The all-caps COCOA we’re talking about is the acronym for Japan’s COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application which cost 400 million yen. The government-administrated contact-tracing app was launched in June of 2020, but at a press conference on Tuesday Minister of Digital Affairs Taro Kono said that COCOA will be shutting down.

Though COCOA got off to a slow start, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno says that it was eventually downloaded approximately 40 million times. The smartphone app worked by coordinating with the phones of other users, creating an anonymous list of those you had been in close proximity with for more than 15 minutes, then notifying everyone in that chain if someone reported testing positive for the coronavirus.

Kono claims, though, that the need for such close monitoring has sufficiently decreased compared to two years ago. He also acknowledged that the app itself did not always work as intended, with reported failures to properly notify users who had been in contact with someone later found to be infected, and that a thorough review of COCOA’s effectiveness will be performed in order to make improvements should another pandemic occur in the future that necessitates a new contact-tracing app.

A timetable for COCOA’s shutdown will be announced soon. In the meantime, though, Kono asks users to not delete it just yet, as a feedback survey for users, via the app, will also be coming in the near future.

As for how this development could be a good thing, assuming Kono’s assessment that COCOA is no longer needed is accurate, it’s yet another sign of life returning to normal in Japan, and the implication that relaxing diligence against potential infection vectors is permissible bodes well for Japan’s long-awaited reopening to individual international tourism.

Sources: Jiji Medical via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan to reexamine individual traveler ban, politician says current relaxations insufficient

-- Japanese government, please stop using floppy discs, politician asks

-- Only three COVID-19 infected people registered on Japan’s contact tracing app after a month

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Baby steps but still in the right direction!

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Most worthless app ever conceived. And someone made a bundle charging big money for it. IIRC, it cost like 13億円. Yep, that's $10 million of our taxes down the drain.

22 ( +28 / -6 )

Complete waste of money.

Should be an investigation into the money trail on this, those involved should be prosecuted.

26 ( +30 / -4 )

Oh, is that what that is.

I thought it was an app for finding coffee shops that have the best Coco.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

What’s with the freaky looking bird?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Useless app , based on voluntary registration by infected persons to be able to work properly.

And wasn’t it developed from a free licence which overseas app also used ?

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA


It cost 400 million yen, thanks God that apps now is stopped, just like many other projects in Japan be shutdown long time ago.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Just to add that we had to download it when coming back from overseas, which added numbers to the total download figures

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Well, at least this will reduce the risk of personal information bein leaked from the app (if not already),

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I'm going to go contrarian and say that the path ahead is so murky, this may end up being a bad move. The Russian and the Chinese both thinks or at least wants their population to think USA is behind new covid variants (using Ukraine as a base for research).


This means there will not be an 'opening up' any time soon, AND if the west opens up first, they (especially China) will use the opening up as an opportunity to infect the west. It's a view especially pervasive on Weibo, but the posts are deleted very quickly, so I wonder why.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Come on.... it's getting shut down because it never worked right to begin with, like pretty much any government app or website. The only thing they are successful on is wasting money.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

I didn't even know of it!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The UK Covid app cost £76m (US$87m) in the first year* and worked like a chocolate teapot. Most of the apps released had hopeless design flaws. Proximity x Time from GPS or Bluetooth just wasn't accurate enough.

Governments that begrudged the poor a few quid welfare to buy food for their kids stuffed eye-watering amounts of [borrowed] public money into the pockets of their friends, individual and corporate, on PPE of questionable quality and apps like this.


9 ( +13 / -4 )

 ...worked like a chocolate teapot.

That might actually work quite nicely for iced tea.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oooh, fun.

worthless apps no one ever used, about to be deleted, wasting…….money

yesterday we had police segways in the airport, but no tourists, wasting……..money

whats next?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Should have been purged a long time ago. The money that went into the development, the updates, the data storage, and the associated information security protocols has already been wasted. There is still money being wasted on proof of vaccination apps as well, so we need to end those and abandon MySOS as well.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It seems that every modern government project includes the prerequisite of creating an app or website that costs an obscene amount of money combined with the robustness of a Trabant.

Anyone willing to place bets on a data leak due to some bureaucrat leaving his USB stick at an izakaya before the cursed thing is shut down?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Thank you LDP for the utter waste of people's money!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well, at least this will reduce the risk of personal information bein leaked from the app (if not already),

Right on the money! Unfortunately the MySOS app requires a service agreement with a private for-profit company that does have a clause which allows your personal private data to be given to unspecified third parties. But if they can't harvest your personal private data for profit, how could they have stopped the virus from spreading so quickly?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Fortunately, by design there is no data to leak with this app. This has actually been a huge point of contention when similar apps were developed around the world. Unlike some other countries, Japan chose the decentralized approach.

I'm genuinely curious, because I don't know much about how these things work in terms of data sharing, but wouldn't there be some data that could be leaked? If there is no data exchanged, how would the system know which phone is the phone of a contact, even if "anonymous"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

of course that app has right from the start been simply useless software garbage , one can even easily see that many scenarios are not covered and you can even calculate statistically that it hasn’t any significant use, but I have done my duty as a foreigner living here

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This government continues to make the wrong decisions. COCOA is an essential app for tracking future variations of the coronavirus. Moreover it saved lives. I strongly feel every citizen, resident and visitor to Japan must be made to install it on their phones, and there should be mandatory penalties for not using or deleting it.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

400 million yen could have been given to hospitals to improve info structure to help better facilitate those that are infected and those that aren’t

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Catch Corona in Japan and the hospitals do not want you (most people ) The MO has been to stay home with an oxygen sensor and a daily phone call from the local health authority.

And yes, Japanese people died at home under this regime!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thanks Roy, that clears things up by a good amount.

In saying that, assuming the app works as designed, does this anonymous system mean that the health department, which I would expect to have access to the data, only knows where contacts occurred, not who they are? So while they can determine the geographical location where people may have been infected, they have no idea which people may be at risk of spreading the infection or who may have caught it.

To me, this has pros and cons. For something like COVID, I think keeping the data anonymous and the app voluntary is best. If it were something really nasty like smallpox, that might require de-anonymising the data so that people who may be exposed can be tracked down quickly.

Or is there a back door...?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Roy Sophveason

d) if that other person got covid and reports that, the central server gets the information "person with random number 67890 has reported positive", and shares that random number with all people's apps

That is exactly why this app has been basically useless. It relies on the voluntary data input of those who are infected. Considering the negative stigma surrounding Covid in Japan, at least for much of the time after this app was implemented, it is very doubtful that everyone, or even most people, testing positive were entering that data into the app.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Because nobody used it!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That's one less app I have to download when I arrive at the airport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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