While not easy or legal (in most situations), it is possible to teach in Japan with a criminal record.
Obtaining a work visa and permit and working in Japan with a criminal record of any sort will definitely increase the difficulty of turning your dream of teaching abroad into a reality. However, depending on the offense in question as well as the time frame for which the crime was committed, it could prove easier than you think.
A Criminal Record Check Is Not Required for Japan
While an official criminal background check is not a requisite to teach in Japan, many schools will request one. Be prepared to supply all your personal information which will allow the school to conduct their own background check. If you have any outstanding offenses, i.e. your record was not sealed, more than likely you will not be accepted into the country.
Even if your school doesn’t ask for a CRC, the visa paperwork does ask if you’ve been convicted of a crime. It is not our place to tell you to lie or not, but it’s important to know that the consequences of being caught lying are severe – you can be deported from Japan and barred from future entry.
Expunging Your Criminal Record
The beginning stages of going about for increasing your chances of teaching abroad with a criminal record should be taken within your own country. First, let’s discuss the parameters for sealing your record: the official term for this is expungement and is the process of officially sealing your record, thus making it impossible for individuals and agencies to see any criminal activity on a background check, differs from state to state. While expungement is a predominately American-term, similar processes do exist in other countries.
Assuming your record is now locked, you’ve got a much better chance of passing a school-mandated background check and landing a better job – and you did it legally.
The Bottom Line on Teaching in Japan with a Criminal Record
While it isn’t impossible to teach in Japan if you have a criminal record, it will be significantly more difficult to obtain a work permit if you have one. Your best option is to seek expungement and look for schools that don’t have a history of running background checks. If the crime you committed was serious, you may want to consider teaching in other countries that have somewhat more lax requirements for entry.
So, is it possible to teach in Japan with a criminal record? The answer is not a definitive YES or NO. It really depends on the nature of your crime, and the requirements of the school to which you are applying.