Keeping your job board legal in Japan

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

I’ve previously written about how recruiting is a licensed industry in Japan, and because of this, you need to be careful about how you operate your job board to ensure it isn’t classified as recruiting.

In October 2022, the regulations about job boards changed (the details can be found here). I was actually blindsided by these new regulations, not hearing about them coming into effect until after they did (thanks Fabien Brogard Cipriani of HirePlanner). Fortunately though, the definition of recruiting hasn’t changed, and so I can continue to operate TokyoDev in fundamentally the same way as I did before. However, the new regulations do put some additional requirements on job board operators.

With the new regulations, businesses that provide “job information” (求人情報) or “job seeker information” (求職者情報) are classified as “Specified Recruitment Information Providers” (特定募集情報等提供事業者). These businesses are further split into categories based on criteria like how the information is acquired (e.g. by crawling or directly), and in the case of job information, whether any information is collected from job seekers.

Most categories of information providers must register with the government before they start their business (existing providers had until December 31st, 2022 to register). Failing to register as an information provider comes with a fine of up to ¥300,000, and the possibility of up to 6 months imprisonment.

The only information providers that don’t need to register are those that provide information about job information, but don’t collect any information about job seekers. As even having a signup for an email newsletter about new job postings classifies it as a business that requires job postings, I suspect basically every job board is required to register. The only example given of a business that doesn’t need to register is one that provides job information only in print media.

The registration process itself is free and reasonably straightforward. Once you complete the registration, you’re issued a paper certificate that includes a notification receipt number, and are also listed in a pdf along with all the other businesses that have completed it.

The new regulations also specify a number of criteria for job information providers. This includes:

  • Providing accurate and updated information about job posts and candidates.
  • Not exaggerating your past achievements or customer’s feedback.
  • Handle candidate information according to certain rules about handling personal information. This includes only collecting the information necessary for providing your service, making it clear how you’ll use the information, and not providing personal information without consent.
  • Not receiving compensation from job seekers in exchange for providing job information, such as by charging a registration or usage fee to submit their jobs to an employer.
  • Handling complaints from users including job seekers and employer companies correctly and promptly, making clear how they can get in touch with you (via email, contact format, or phone call).
  • Providers are suggested to make public when the listed information was updated, how they handle the complaints from users, and the way job listings are ordered when searched.

If you don’t comply with these regulations, the government may order you to do so, and submit a report of your improvements. Ignoring this or submitting a false report can result in a fine of ¥300,000. In cases the government suspects malicious intent, they may inspect your business on the spot, and be told to suspend the business. Failing to comply with a suspension order can result in a fine of up to ¥1,000,000 or up to one year in prison.

Ignoring the penalties, the regulations themselves are fairly sensible, and establishing them did result in me making some improvements to TokyoDev, such as including a date for when the job posting was last verified to be accurate, and instituting a new process to regularly check in with companies to ensure their listing is still active.

However, potentially imprisionment for failing to register your job board does seem like overkill. Knowing how Japan approaches this sort of thing, I doubt the government is going to send the police after someone who failed to register out of ignorance, and they’re probably reserving it for someone trying to actively evade the regulations, but still, I question if it is actually necessary, and worry that it discourages innovation in this space.

More about the author

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

Paul is a Canadian software developer who has been living in Japan since 2006. Since 2011 he’s been helping other developers start and grow their careers in Japan through TokyoDev.

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