Is a Minor Health Condition a Problem For Teaching in Japan?

(Florida, USA)

I went through the JET process 4 years ago...made it past the initial stage and the US person was very positive about my chances as I have TEFL certification and a master's in education. However, at the same time, I was diagnosed with a neurological condition that I had to disclose because my treatment requires a bit of medication. It's not life-threatening or anything...just causes some minor muscular weakness, but the Tokyo side of JET rejected me for this reason.

I was pretty disappointed and four years later, can't let go of the dream just yet. Is it worth my time to try applying elsewhere or am I likely to run into a similar difficulty? The medication is somewhat obscure but it should be known in Japan. And I could potentially use my US insurance to get all my medication filled up front but would have to bring it in, which would possibly not be allowed because of the quantity?

Just want to know, I guess, if it's worth trying or if I'll just be disappointed again.

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Feb 07, 2018
Followup Question NEW
by: Anonymous

What if you have a major health condition? I'm bipolar. It's medicated, under control, I'm fully functional, but there's certainly a stigma around it. And I do need medicine to keep it under control. Is it possible to just avoid mentioning this?

Jan 26, 2018

by: John


Firstly, the JET program is very thorough in their application process. Whereas other jobs in Japan like ALT positions and Eikaiwa positions are not nearly as thorough and don't ask so many questions. It's pretty much a personal call as to whether you disclose. But being so minor is it really even necessary?

It sounds like this is such a minor medical issue and probably one that many gainfully employed Japanese have as well. Of course there are limits, as a jet pilot must have perfect vision to fly a plane of course but a person with minor arthritis can do clerical work even while taking medication to control inflammation.

But more importantly...

Yes, bringing in a 1 year supply can get you into hot water. At most you can legally bring in a 1 months supply. However if it is considered an illegal substance in Japan you can't. For example Sudafed a nasal decongestant is illegal here. Go and figure huh.

I would check first if it is considered an illegal substance before pushing forward. Also check to see if you can get that medication here or something that is quite similar.

If you can, then your problems are pretty much solved and you can start applying for jobs in Japan without giving up on the dream.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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