Sony says, "Stop yer bitchin'! Ye ain't gettin' no UMD Passport!" Okay, they didn't say it that harshly, with that badly of a dialect, and with that horrible of grammar, but you get the overall gist. North America owners of the Vita should not expect Japan's UMD Passport program to hit the States. EVER.
Shuhei Yoshida of Sony Worldwide Studios explained it like so:
I’m sorry we are not doing it in the States, but there are two factors that contributed to the decision as I understand it. I’m not in a position to make that kind of business decision. The system has been introduced in Japan, where there is a much larger demand for PSP games. When you look at the release schedule of new titles there are still lots of PSP games being released in Japan and being announced for release. Lots of people who are interested in trying Vita are also interested in playing PSP games that they might purchase before Vita comes out, and will not necessarily choose the digital version.
There are many, many games that are sold at an affordable price. Because people in Japan are not getting the digital copy for free, because it costs us money to develop and maintain the system so we are asking people to pay somewhere between $5 and $10 to receive the digital copy in addition to what they have on the UMD.
When you compare that to the price of games here, PSP games in Japan are sold at a much higher price, so people see the value in spending the $5 to $10 to get the digital copy. But when the games are already sold at a lower price in the U.S. we see less value in introducing that kind of system. The combination of the new titles available, or the lack of, and the price difference, the company decided to do that.
The fact that the PSP did not sell as well over here as it did in Japan probably has something to do with it as well. Lots of people bought UMD games for their PSPs, but it sounds like it's not as many as were sold in Japan. Considering Japan released far more titles than North America, it's not too surprising.
I'm a little disappointed, but I'll live. It's no big deal to me to keep my PSP and play my UMD games if I feel like unearthing them at all.