Protection for Workers with Mental Health Problems

Is it possible for someone with mental health problems to get a job teaching English in Japan if said mental health problems were mild/moderate and effectively treated with medication? If so, are there any legal protections to protect such people from discrimination?

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Dec 20, 2016
Jobs in Japan and Medical Conditions / Employment
by: John


This question being quite complex can be handled in the following manner: First by common place hiring practices and 2nd by the actual letter of the law which mandates it.

Regarding application procedures in schools whether they are public or private schools, in their application procedure, they do not generally ask about such mental medical conditions. Contracts you look at will generally not have anything regarding mental health listed.
However there are health conditions that require disclosure. For example a person who is prone to seizures must disclose this when applying for a driving position etc. It is a case by case situation. Some employers will ask and others don't.

It may be helpful to note however that sometimes for children's classes a company will write that they prefer younger teachers because of the shear energy requirement it takes to handle 5 or 6 year old kids all day. This is just a preference and not anything they can personally mandate as it may be in violation of the law depending on the person's age. This area can be a bit gray and each position or company are different. Sometimes a company may ask if you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing your job or something quite general like this. Honestly it is entirely up to you as to how you handle it. If you believe your medical condition is not a problem given the medication you take to keep things in check and feel that you can do your job then check the correct box.

Regarding the law:
The "right to privacy" for individuals is derived from a general right to the "pursuit of happiness"; a right from which invasions of privacy commonly detract.

The Supreme Court generally defines this as a right which prohibits reckless or otherwise arbitrary disclosure of information about an individual’s private life.
Article 13 of the Constitution provides that citizens' liberty in private life shall be protected against the exercise of public authority, and it can be construed that, as one of individuals' liberties in private life, every individual has the liberty of protecting his/her own personal information from being disclosed to a third party or made public without good reason.

(See 1965 (A) No. 1187, judgement of the Grand Bench of the Supreme Court of December 24, 1969, Keishu Vol. 23, No. 12, at 1625).

Practical Law ( further elaborates:
The privacy law rules protect individuals located in Japan, including foreign nationals and minors. Privacy law rules do not protect legal entities. Public figures including government officials and celebrities have a right to privacy.

Japanese courts have described the right to privacy as both:

・ The right to not have private affairs made public without due cause.
・ The right to control private information.

In conclusion, we can see that the individual right to privacy is recognized by both the Japanese Constitution and the Civil Code, and (of course) also extends to protect foreign nationals.

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