The Constitution of Japan guarantees fundamental human rights to all foreigners residing in Japan unless such rights only apply to Japanese citizens by their nature. Japan is a signatory to principal human rights treaties such as the International Covenants on Human Rights (the International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Also, regardless of nationality, all residents in Japan are required to pay national taxes (such as income tax, sales tax, etc.) and local taxes (such as residence tax, etc.).

(Retrieved from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

For those people working in Japan, the Labour Standards Law and other related laws prescribe the following provisions and “Guidelines concerning employment and working conditions 
for foreign workers.” Employers should look closely at these provisions and respect them.

  1. It is prohibited to discriminate against people because of their nationality.
    Also it is prohibited to discriminate by the reason that working conditions, etc. of the foreign national’s home country are not as good as those in Japan. (Article 3 of the Labour Standards Law)
  2. Clear indication of working conditions.
    In concluding a labour contract, the employer must clearly indicate wages, working hours, etc. to the worker concerned. Regarding wages, in particular, it is necessary to indicate them clearly in writing. (Article 15 of the Labour Standards Law) . In finding employment, it is recommendable to make sure of essential working conditions such as wages, working hours, etc. by documents ( Employment notification ) etc., which show clearly the contents.
  3. Prohibition of forced labour, intermediary exploitation.
    The employer must not force labour upon workers by acts of violence or intimidation against the latter’s will. Unless authorized under the law, he/she must not make a profit by intervening as a business in the employment of others. (Articles 5 and 6 of the Labour Standards Law).
  4. Prohibition of a contract which describes the payment of a penalty, damages, etc. for non-fulfillment of a contract.
    Making a contract which fixes in advance the payment of a penalty or damages for non-fulfillment of a contract on the part of the workers such as resignation before the completion of the contract period, etc. (Article 16 of the Labour Standards Law).
  5. Restrictions on the dismissals of workers who have been injured in an industrial accident and are under medical treatment.
    Dismissing a worker who has been injured or become sick in connection with his/her work and is absent from work in order to receive medical treatment is prohibited during such period of absence plus 30 days thereafter. (Article 19 of the Labour Standards Law).
  6. Advance notice of dismissal.
    In the case of dismissing a worker, the employer is required, in principle, to give the worker an advance notice of least 30 days before dismissal. In case an advance notice is not given at 30 days before dismissal, the employer must pay him/ her the amount of average wages for the number of days falling short of the 30 days dismissal notice allowance required by law. This shall not apply, however, in the case where the employer becomes unable to continue his/her business owing to uncontrollable circumstances such as national calamities, etc.,or where the employer dismisses the worker for reasons in which the worker is responsible for being dismissed. (Article 20 and 21 of the Labour Standards Law)
  7. Payment of wages
    Wages must be paid to the workers in currency, directly, in full, at least once a month, and on a fixed date. (Article 24 of the labour Standard law). Concerning the payment in full, however, exceptions are made such as statutory deductions for taxes, employment insurance and agreed deductions for union dues, etc. In case a worker resigns from his employer, the latter must pay the former outstanding wages, etc. within 7 days following the receiving of the former’s request for payment. (Article 23 of the Labour Standard Law).
  8. Minimum wages
    The employers must pay his/her worker wages which is not less than the amount of minimum wages stated by the Minimum Wages Law. The amount of minimum wages is fixed according to regulations and industry.
  9. Working hours and holidays
    The statutory working hours are 8 hours, a day, 40 hours a week (for certain size and types of industry, 44 hours a week). (Articles 32,40 and 131 of the Labour Standard Law). The statutory holidays are one day a week, or 4 days or more in 4-weekperiod.(Article 35 of the Labour Standard Law).
  10. Extra pay for overtime, work on holidays and midnight work.
    In order to make a worker work in excess of the statutory working hours or on statutory holidays, it is necessary for the employer to comply with certain procedure prescribed by the law and regulations. (Article 36 of the labour Standard Law). For work done in excess of the statutory working hours, extra pay calculated at a 25% or more of the wages payable for the normal working hours or work day must be paid, and for work on statutory holidays, at least 35%. In addition, it is regarded necessary for workers to be paid extra pay calculated at a rate of 25% or more for working during midnight(between10p.m.and5 a.m.). (Article 37 of the Labour Standard Law).
  11. Annual leave with pay
    Annual leave with pay is to be given to workers who have been employed continuously for 6months, and have worked for 80% or more of the whole working days. (Article 39 of the labour Standard Law)
  12. Return of money and other goods
    Foreign nationals living in Japan always need carry with them their passport or certificate of alien registration. (Article 23 of the Immigration Control Law). Be careful not to entrust your passport with others. Also, when a worker resigns from a company, the employer must pay the former outstanding wages and any other kind of goods to which the former is entitled within 7 days following the receiving of the former’s request for payment.(Article 23 of the Labour Standard Law).
  13. Industrial safety and health
    In order to secure the safety and the health of the workers, the Industrial Safety and Health Law prescribes the prevention of dangers or health impairment to workers. The Law also prescribes provision of industrial safety and health education (education at the time of hiring) as well as conducting of health examination.

(Retrieved from Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners)

  1. Emergency If you are in need of an ambulance or involved in an emergency situation such as a fire, accident or robbery or other crimes, stay calm and call for help. The following emergency numbers are available, depending on the type of emergency. All lines are open 24 hours a day.
    1. These numbers are only for emergency uses and are not intended for inquiries. Ambulance services in Japan are free of charge. However, please refrain from requesting an ambulance if the case is minor and can be dealt with your own vehicle or a taxi.
    2. Both 119 and 110 can be dialed from a land-line phone, public phone, cellular phone and PHS. It is not necessary to give the specific address if dialing from a public phone as they can automatically trace the source of the call. How to make an emergency call from a public phone Pick up the receiver, press the red emergency button and dial either 119 or 110. There is no need to insert coins or calling cards.
  2. Natural Disaster:
    Japan is a country that is prone to earthquakes. It is also frequently hit by typhoons between summer and fall. Therefore, it is very important to be always prepared for natural disasters so that in the event of a disaster, you can proceed without panicing and damage can be kept to a minimum. Knowing where to evacuate in the event of an emergency is also essential. Ambulance Dial 119 (fire department) When you need an ambulance due to a sudden illness or injury Fire Dial 119 (fire department) Car accident Dial 110 (police station) Crime Dial 110 (police station)
    1. Earthquakes – Japan is known for its frequency of earthquakes, which sometimes cause subsequent tsunamis. . Fire is the most common cause of collateral damage.  After the shaking subsides, it is important to turn off heat sources such as the gas stove and heater as soon as possible to prevent fire. Shut off the gas by closing the main valve and unplug all electric appliances. When evacuating, do so after switching off the circuit breaker. In case of a fire, let the neighbors know and work together to extinguish or control the fire before the fire department arrives.

    2. Typhoons occur some time between July and October and are accompanied by heavy storms and rainfall. They can cause landslide as well as flooding.


Medical Care, Insurance and Pension

When receiving medical treatment in Japan, it is best to bring someone who can speak Japanese since many medical facilities do not offer services in foreign languages. Also, this may be important in order to accurately communicate the symptoms you have. Some prefectures post information regarding medical facilities and their capacity in foreign languages on their website so it is recommended to check whether the staff at your local hospital or clinic can speak your native language.

There are two types of medical facilities in Japan: hospitals that are fully equipped for in-patient care and complete examinations and clinics that specialize in family practice.

It is advised to go see a doctor at a local clinic first and then receive specialized treatment at a larger hospital if necessary. Do some research on the medical facilities in your area to be prepared in case of an emergency. You may find the website of your prefecture helpful to gather some information.

Also, it is important to visit the municipal office or look through ethnic media guides to consciously look for information regarding medical treatment, such as flu vaccinations, offered locally.

Retrieved from Ministry of Affairs Japan