Teacher Certification Test


The traditional way to become a licensed teacher in Japan is to go to a four-year Japanese university and get certification along the way to graduation, but there are other ways to get the same piece of paper. Relatively recently, MEXT introduced a special certification track in order to obtain a teaching license. Here's a PDF (in Japanese) with the details of the process. In this blog entry, I summarize and translate the parts of the process that are relevant to me.



Every year, several thousand native English speakers come to Japan to work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) who teach English to Japanese elementary, junior high school, and senior high school students. In the past, many ALTs were assigned to junior and senior high schools, and in recent years there has been an increase in elementary school ALTs. By law, if you want to teach at a public school in Japan, you need proper certification: a teaching license (教育職員免許状). Almost all ALTs lack this license, so they have to team teach. That is, a properly licensed English teacher — typically a Japanese teacher of English (JTE) — should in theory be in the classroom with them at all times. In reality, people have been known to occasionally ignore national educational policy, and sometimes some ALTs teach some of their lessons alone. When I was an ALT, a few times the Japanese English teacher was called away on an emergency or otherwise had too much other work to do, and the school asked me to run the class by myself. As a practical measure, team teaching is beneficial for language education, because the two teachers can demonstrate conversations to the class. But if you want to stay in Japan a long time, you probably want to get a promotion.

Private Schools

If you work at a private school, it is possible to teach by yourself even without a proper teaching license. Private schools can hire you as a Special Part-Time Lecturer (特別非常勤講師). The translation here is misleading: the job can be full-time, as in forty hours per week. The word "part-time" is used to indicate that it's a non-tenure position. When my current school hired me as a Special Part-Time Lecturer, it made the arrangements for me to get a Temporary Teaching License (臨時免許状). This license is good for up to three years and can be renewed. This license is tied to your place of work; if you change employers, maybe you have to get a new one. My impression is that the office in Tokyo that grants temporary licenses appears to prefer master's degrees to bachelor's degrees, but certainly bachelor's degrees are sufficient. Rules for obtaining a temporary license vary by prefecture. Private schools themselves vastly prefer a candidate holding a master's degree to one with only bachelor's degree. But that varies from school to school. With an otherwise strong resume and a strong ability to speak Japanese, those with bachelor's degrees and several years of ALT work experience can find decent jobs teaching English at private schools in large Japanese cities, and particularly in Tokyo. As a Special Part-Time Lecturer, you can work as a teacher at a private school, but if you want to work as a teacher for a long time, it would be better to get a proper Japanese teacher license. Your resume looks stronger, the hiring process is easier for the school, some schools have special not-as-good positions for employees with only temporary teaching licenses, and the option of working at a public school is worth having.

If you're an expat teaching English in Japan, you might change jobs every few years. This is fairly common in the expat teaching world, but it's unstable. Your Japanese friends may be surprised that you have to go out and find a new job after you reach the three-year or five-year contract limit. Still, there are many teaching jobs that open up every year. GaijinPot and O-Hayo Sensei are good resources for those in the job market.

Bad News On Public Schools

The bad news is that even if you get a proper teaching license, most prefectures in Japan will not offer you a tenured teaching position at a public school. Several years ago, all prefectures except Tokyo had clauses forbidding foreigners from getting tenure at public elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. I speculate that the situation may have improved recently but cannot say for sure. Without tenure you can still get a job at a public school, but you may have to renew your contract every year, and presumably your salary would rise slowly or not at all. This kind of thing varies by prefecture and school district.

Good News on Licensing

The good news is that one can obtain a Special Teaching License (特別免許状). The general idea of the Special Teaching License is that some people, regardless of their field, become teachers after spending years in the workplace building up their expertise. Such people may well have the knowledge and skills to teach, but they aren't going to go back to college for four years just to get the certificate like other teachers. Instead, they may be eligible for the Special Teaching License. As foreign language teachers with years of experience and native-level English, this is ideal for many current and former ALTs.


Official Documentation

The following are excerpts from the official MEXT document and my casual English translations. My translations are quick and casual. If you aren't sure about the translation, take a look at the original Japanese. If you don't speak any Japanese, ask your Japanese coworkers. My comments are in italics.


Cover Page

特別免許状の授与に係る教育職員検定等に関する指針 平成26年6月19日 文部科学省初等中等教育局教職員課

Guidelines on Testing for Certification of Teachers With Special Teaching Licenses. 2014-06-19. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, & Technology. Teachers Branch of the Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau. This is the title of the document.



  • 特別免許状は、教員免許状を持っていないが優れた知識経験等を有する社会人等を教員として迎え入れることにより、学校教育の多様化への対応や、その活性化を図るため、授与することができる免許状である。
  • すなわち、教職課程を経ていないながらも、学校の教員として学校教育に貢献することのできる優れた知識経験等を有する者が授与対象者となる。したがって、特別免許状の授与に当たり行う教育職員検定は、外国の教職課程を経ていることを前提とし行う教育職員免許法第18条に基づく教育職員検定とは異なる。
  • 都道府県教育委員会によっては、特別免許状に係る審査基準を具体的に定めていない場合や、審査基準を厳格に定めている場合があり、全国的に制度の利用が進んでいるとはいえない状況である。
  • これらのことを踏まえ、都道府県教育委員会による特別免許状の積極的な授与に資するとともに、特別免許状所有者による教育の質を担保するため、以下において、特別免許状の授与に当たり行う教育職員検定等に関する指針を示す。


Chapter 1: Confirming Matters About Official Certification to Become an Educator

第1章 教育職員検定において確認すべき事項

  • 授与候補者の教員としての資質の確認
  • 任命者又は雇用者(雇用者は、学校の設置者に限る。以下同じ。)の推薦による学校教育の効果的実施の確認
  • 授与候補者の教員としての資質についての第三者の評価を通じた確認
具体的な内容は、第2章第1節から第3節に示すとおりである。なお、教育職員検定においては、これらの観点に加え、第2章第4節に示す付加的観点を 選択的に用いることも考えられる。

There are three main points to consider regarding teacher certification.

Details on this process are contained in Chapter 2. In Chapter 2, Clause 1 through Clause 3 are considered, and Clause 4 is optionally considered.


Chapter 2: Details of the Official Certification Process

第2章 教育職員検定において確認すべき具体的内容

Chapter 2 Clause 1: Qualities Required for an Applicant

第1節 授与候補者の教員としての資質の確認


The applicant must meet the core qualities and qualifications described in either Item 1 or Item 2 below.

Chapter 2 Clause 1 Item 1: Those With Expertise or Special Knowledge of a Field

第1項 教科に関する専門的な知識経験又は技能

  1. 学校教育法第1条に規定する学校又は次に掲げる教育施設における教科に関する授業に携わった経験が、最低1学期間以上にわたり概ね計600時間(授業時間を含む勤務時間)以上あること。
  2. 教科に関する専門分野に関する勤務経験等(企業、外国にある教育施設等におけるもの)が、概ね3年以上あること。

For those with special expertise in a field, such as those with experience working in a field, applicants must meet either the first or second requirement below.

  1. The applicant has at least one year and 600 hours of teaching experience at a school as designated under Article 1 of the School Education Law or some other institutions. Work experience at regular Japanese schools fits this requirement. Some schools abroad also qualify; see the PDF for more examples.
  2. The applicant has at least three years of work experience in the relevant field. There are examples of what kind of experience counts in the PDF. Working at a company or working at a university can qualify, if your specialization there matches what you hope to teach in the future.

Chapter 2 Clause 1 Item 2: Those Popular in Society with Strong Motivation and Zeal

第2項 社会的信望、教員の職務を行うのに必要な熱意と識見

  • 授与候補者が提出した推薦状(第2節の推薦状とは別に2通以上。勤務予定校以外の日本の学校における学校活動実績がある場合には、当該校の設置法人の役員や校長等管理職による推薦状を必ず含む。)の内容評価
  • 本人の申請(志願)理由書

Those held in high confidence by society with the necessary zeal to teach can qualify here. Applicants need good academic references and two letters of evaluation and recommendation from principals or heads of educational institutions. The applicant also must write a letter of intent explaining why he or she wants to become a teacher. This is a method whereby if there's enough public pressure, it's possible for a person to get certification even if they otherwise lack any reasonable qualifications. I imagine it's very difficult to get approval in this fashion; you're probably better off showing relevant work experience as outlined in Item 1 above.

Chapter 2 Clause 2: Implementing Effective Education at the Recommending School

第2節 任命者又は雇用者の推薦による学校教育の効果的実施の確認

  1. 授与候補者を配置することにより実現しようとしている教育内容
  2. 授与候補者に対し、特別免許状を授与する必要性があること
  3. 第4章第1節~第3節に関する対応状況

The employer recommending this applicant should be able to place the person in a manner where they can be an effective educator. The below three points are to be considered.

  1. What subject matter the applicant will teach.
  2. The necessity of the applicant receiving a Special Teaching License.
  3. Information specified in Clause 1 through Clause 3 of Chapter 4.

Chapter 2 Clause 3: Third Party Evaluation of the Applicant's Qualifications

第3節 授与候補者の教員としての資質についての第三者の評価を通じた確認


A third party must evaluate the applicant's qualities and attributes relevant to teaching. A third party, through conducting an interview, should confirm that the applicant possesses scholarship experience as specified in Chapter 5 Clause 5 of the Educational Personnel Certification Law.

Chapter 2 Clause 4: Additional Points

第4節 付加的観点

  1. (例) 外国の教員資格の保有
  2. 修士号、博士号等の学位の保有
  3. 各種競技会等における成績
  4. 大学における教職科目の履修
  5. 模擬授業の実施による評価

If the information in Clause 1 above is insufficient for a board of education to make a decision on whether it would be appropriate to award a Special Teaching License, the additional factors here may be considered.

  1. (Example) Possesses teaching certification in a foreign country.
  2. Possesses a Master's degree or Doctor's degree.
  3. Results of various competitions.
  4. University courses in education.
  5. Evaluation of mock lessons.


Chapter 3: Details on the Certification and Judgment Process

第3章 教育職員検定の具体的な審査方法等

Chapter 3 Clause 1: Details on the Certification and Judgment Process

第1節 教育職員検定の具体的な審査方法



Using the information detailed in Chapter 2 (excluding Clause 3), the board of education reviews the applicant's documentation for suitability.

For those who are considered by the board of education as targets to pass the document review, in order to further collect information about scholastic experience and to see if the applicant is has a suitable personality, the interviewer with scholastic history described in Chapter 2 Clause 3 may be asked to speak to the board of education about the applicant. Applicants have to get interviewed by someone appropriately qualified, and for applicants who look good enough on paper, the interviewer goes to the board of education and tells them about the applicant.

Chapter 3 Clause 2: Preparing and Applying for the Special Teaching License

第2節 特別免許状授与申請手続の整備及び周知


Each prefectural board of education coordinates with its member local board of educations and schools. For local board of educations and schools that would like to submit an application for a Special Teaching License, a suitable procedure shall be created, and preparation and application documents shall be created.


Chapter 4: Other

第4章 その他


Those with a Special Teaching License should, when thinking about employment, bear in mind Clause 1 through Clause 5.

Chapter 4 Clause 1: Training Plan Draft and Enforcement

第1節 研修計画の立案、実施について


Special Teaching License holders may not be skilled in creating educational plans. Other regularly-licensed teachers at the place of employment should assist with reviewing such documents and plans and also help with implementation. Additionally, apart from the teacher's regular subject there are classes such as the Period for Integrated Studies, Moral Education, and Periods for Special Studies, as well as potential duties such as student guidance. Training should also cover these areas. This is meant to apply to people who just received their Special Teaching License and may at first be unfamiliar with various educational matters.

Chapter 4 Clause 2: Organization of Common Governmental Curriculum Guidelines

第2節 学習指導要領等の共通理解のための体制について


In order to prepare materials, choose textbooks, and do other school work, in the case where the person does not have a grasp of fundamental Japanese, the school or institution should provide requisite support. One interpretation of this is that if you don't speak much Japanese, your school should outline how it will support you when you apply for the Special Teaching Permit. Otherwise, the assumption is that you won't be able to read official materials or do any other relevant school work involving Japanese.

Chapter 4 Clause 3: The Posting Rate of Special Teaching License Holders

第3節 特別免許状所有者の配置割合について



※ 特別免許状の授与を受けた後3年以上の学校勤務経験(当該校に限らない)があり、普通免許状所有者と同等に教育活動及び校務を担当することができると認められる者

In order to assist with guiding Special Teaching License holders in advancing reasonable education goals for the school at large, the number of teachers with a Special Teaching License out of the total number of teachers should be less than 50%. There is some discussion of a 20% figure in certain circumstances.

For schools focusing mainly on foreign language and having some specific plan where the above-mentioned ratio would be problematic to maintain, or for research and development schools or curriculum development schools, if the school obtains proper designation from MEXT the ratio can be ignored.

For the above numbers, teachers who have been working more than three years under a Special Teaching License are counted as regularly-licensed teachers. The idea is that for the first three years on the Special Teaching License you're doing on-the-job training, but after that you're just a normal teacher.

Chapter 4 Clause 4: Employment of Those Already Awarded a Special Teaching License

第4節 既に特別免許状を授与された者の任命・雇用について


For those who already hold or held a Special Teaching License, their service record or work evaluation records should be verified. I believe the intent is that before re-issuing a Special Teaching License to someone who held one before, a review of the person's previous work should be conducted, just in case there were serious issues.

Chapter 4 Clause 5: The System of Special Part-Time Lecturers

第5節 特別非常勤講師制度等の活用について




The Special Teaching License is considered identical in rank to a regular Teaching License with the assumption that holders will conduct school education and activities normally. On the other hand, in the case where a person is limited to only teaching within their area of expertise, the person might report as a Special Part-Time Lecturer. This is an alternative to obtaining a Special Teaching License. If the person is a guest teacher or always doing team teaching, they do not need to have a Special Teaching License or be a Special Part-Time Lecturer. This is saying that the ALT system is acceptable. If you team teach, only one teacher needs proper certification.

Additionally, school districts and schools that elect to have classes on Saturdays or otherwise outside of the official MEXT-designated curriculum do not need teachers for those hours to hold a Special Teaching License or be a Special Part-Time Lecturer. This is saying that certified teachers are only needed for MEXT-required courses. It's rare but possible for schools to offer more classes than required by law. If they do, the extra classes are far less regulated.

According to case-by-case circumstances at a board of education or school, with the goal of creating an optimal system, if it should happen that someone with proper qualifications cannot be found, it might be possible for a member of the community or someone who is an expert in the relevant field to be welcomed into a school to teach together with a certified teacher.


Tokyo Certification

Now I'll look at and translate the rules for the certification process outlined by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education. If you work in Tokyo (東京都), this applies to you. The below rules were last updated in 2012, and MEXT's guidelines were updated in 2014.

This is not an official translation. I abbreviate some sections and skip others entirely. If you're applying for the Special Teaching License, you should probably read the original Japanese yourself. If that's too difficult, get a Japanese friend or coworker to go through it with you. The information here will be useful, I hope, as a general overview and point of reference. It should not be considered authoritative.

Rules for obtaining a Special Teaching License



These are the public rules for the Board of Education on granting the Special Teaching License.


Article 1: Objectives

(目的) 第一条
  1. この規則は、東京都教育委員会(以下「教育委員会」という。)が授与する教育職員の特別免許状に関し、必要な事項を定め、もって東京都における学校教育の効果的な実施に資することを目的とする。
  1. This document details how the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education (hereafter simply described as the "Board of Education") awards the Special Teaching Permit, which is designed to amplify the effectiveness of school education in the Tokyo area. We're talking about Tokyo Metropolis here, not the smaller central area that you might normally think of as Tokyo, particularly if you live somewhere else. Also, when you apply for this license, you apply together with your employer (or possibly your future employer). Your employer has to write a recommendation for you saying why they need someone like you and what kind of work they want you to do.


Article 2: Definitions

(定義) 第二条
  1. この規則において「受検者」とは、教育職員免許法(昭和二十四年法律第百四十七号。以下「免許法」という。)第四条第一項に規定する教育職員の特別免許状(以下「特別免許状」という。)の授与に係る免許法第六条第一項に規定する教育職員検定(以下「検定」という。)を受けようとする者をいう。
  2. この規則において「任命権者」とは、受検者を任命し、又は雇用しようとする者をいい、大学附置の国立学校(学校教育法(昭和二十二年法律第二十六号)第二条第二項に規定する国立学校をいう。)においては大学の学長、都立学校にあっては学校の長、区市町村立学校にあってはその学校を所轄する区市町村教育委員会、私立学校にあってはその学校を設置する法人を代表する権限を有するもの(学校法人にあってはに限る。)、法人以外の設立に係る学校にあっては当該学校の設置者とする。
  1. In this document, the word "applicant" means an applicant for a teaching license as described in national education law. The term "Special Teaching License" is an abbreviation for "Special License for Instructors of Education", or something similarly long-winded in the original Japanese. The determination of whether an applicant receives the license or not is abbreviated as "determination".
  2. The word "recommender" refers to a person at the applicant's workplace who is asking for the license in order to employ the applicant. In the case of a national high school attached to a university, this is the university president. In the case of a prefectural school, this is the principal. In the case of a municipal public school, this is the local board of education. In the case of a private school, this is a delgate of the school who has great authority, such as the principal or chairperson of the board. This is essentially the same as the person who makes official hiring decisions at your school. If you're being interviewed by several people for a job, most likely it's the person of highest rank who interviews you.


Article 3: Application Documents

(申請書類) 第三条
  1. 受検者は、特別免許状の授与に係る検定を申請するときは、次に掲げる書類を提出しなければならない。
    1. 教育職員特別免許状検定授与申請書(別記第一号様式)
    2. 住民基本台帳法(昭和四十二年法律第八十一号)第十二条の住民票の写し(本籍地(日本国籍を有しない者にあっては、国籍等)の記載のあるものに限る。)
    3. 担当しようとする教科又は教科の領域の一部について有用な専門的知識経験又は技能(以下「有用な知識経験等」という。)を有することを証明する書類
    4. 人物に関する証明書
    5. 身体に関する証明書
  2. 前項の場合において、教育職員免許法及び教育公務員特例法の一部を改正する法律(平成十九年法律第九十八号。以下「平成十九年免許法等改正法」という。)附則第二条第一項に規定する者については、有するいずれかの免許状及びその写し(免許法第五条第七項の授与権者が発行する免許状を有することを証明する書類(以下「授与証明書等」という。)をもって、これに代えることができる。以下同じ。)を提出しなければならない。
  3. 受検者は、その性質上第一項第三号に規定する有用な知識経験等の証明書を得ることができないときは、自己申告書(別記第二号様式)をもってこれに代えることができる。
  4. 第一項第四号に掲げる書類は現に職を有する者にあってはその雇用者、その他の者にあっては教育委員会が指示する者が、同項第五号に掲げる書類は医療機関の医師が、証明したものでなければならない。
  5. 受検者は、第一項の書類に次に掲げる事項を記載した任命権者による推薦書(別記第三号様式)を添付しなければならない。
    1. 任命しようとする学校の名称及び所在地並びに任命権者及び学校長の氏名
    2. 受検者の氏名及び住所
    3. 担当させようとする教科又は教科の領域の一部の名称及びその内容
    4. 受検者について学校教育の効果的な実施に特に必要があるとする理由
  6. 平成十九年免許法等改正法附則第二条第二項に基づき免許法第九条の三第一項に規定する免許状更新講習の修了確認を受けた者、同条第四項に基づき修了確認期限の延期を受けた者、又は同条第五項括弧書の規定により免許状更新講習の受講の免除を認められた者は、第一項各号に掲げる書類並びに第二項、第三項及び第五項から第七項までの場合にそれぞれ提出すべき書類のほか、免許管理者(免許法第二条第二項に規定する免許管理者をいう。)が発行する教育職員免許法施行規則の一部を改正する省令(平成二十年文部科学省令第九号)附則第十五条に規定する確認証明書又は授与証明書等を提出しなければならない。
  7. 第一項、第五項及び前項に掲げる書類のほか、教育委員会は受検者及び任命権者に対し、必要と認める書類の提出を求めることができる。
  8. 第一項第四号及び第五号の書類の様式は、それぞれ教育職員免許状に関する規則(平成元年東京都教育委員会規則第三十七号。以下「委員会規則」という。)別記第九号様式及び第十一号様式の例による。
  1. In order to apply for the Special Teaching License, the applicant must provide the following documents.
    1. Application for the Special Teaching License . Get this from the Board of Education.
    2. The applicant's Certificate of Residence (jūminhyō). Get this from your city office.
    3. Documents showing the applicant has technical expertise and experience in the target field of employment.
    4. A document on the applicant's character.
    5. A document on the applicant's physical health.
  2. To comply with the Teacher's License Law and the Civil Servant Special Training Law, applicants who have received a license in the past must submit a copy of it. I believe there was an old certification system that has since been revised, and if you have a license obtained under the old system, you should submit a copy. If you don't know what this means, you almost certainly don't have such a license.
  3. Those who cannot obtain the third-party document outlined in Clause 1 Item 3 above must write a personal statement to be submitted instead. A template for this can be found on the Board of Education website. If your Japanese isn't particularly great, you will not want to write one of these. It would be preferable to get your employer to produce the document in Clause 1 Item 3.
  4. The document in Clause 1 Item 4 above should be prepared by the applicant's current employer. If that can't be done, the Board of Education can permit an alternate source. The document in Clause 1 Item 5 must be prepared by a doctor at a medical institution. The phrase "medical institution" means a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital. The English word "institution" suggests a large place, but the Japanese has no such nuance.
  5. Along with the documents in Clause 1, an application must include a recommendation letter from the applicant's (future) employer. The school that wants to hire you has to argue that you deserve to get the license.
    1. The letter should contain the school's name, location, and the principal's or school representative's name.
    2. The letter should contain the applicant's name and address.
    3. The letter should identify with specificity what subject the applicant will be asked to teach.
    4. The letter should identify why the school needs this applicant in order to implement a more effective educational plan.
  6. If the applicant already has completed a particular kind of teacher training renewal certification process, this should be included with the application. It seems that Tokyo had some such system in the past that may no longer exist. If you don't know what this means, almost certainly you don't have this.
  7. In addition to the documents mentioned in Clause 1 and Clause 5, the Board of Education may ask for additional documentation if it is necessary.
  8. The above documents should be of a specific format. The Board of Education website has templates illustrating this format.


Article 4: Application Time Frame

(申請期間) 第四条
  1. 前条の申請は年二回、二月又は七月の一日から十四日までの間に行わなければならない。ただし、教育委員会が特に必要と認める場合は、この限りでない。
  1. The application process happens twice a year: in February and in July. The application period is the first of the month to the fourteenth of the month. In special cases as determined by the Board of Education, this limit can be ignored.


Article 5: Official Certification

(検定) 第五条
  1. 教育委員会は、第三条に規定する申請があったときは、受検者の人物、実務、身体及び学力の各項目について、同条に掲げる書類に基づき、検定を行う。
  2. 教育委員会は、前項に規定する書類による検定を行うことが困難と認める場合は、実技その他適当と認められる方法による検定を行うことができる。この場合において、教育委員会は、受検者に対し、その旨を通知する。
  1. After the Board of Education receives the application documents described in Article 3, a determination is made based on the applicant's personality, work experience, health, and scholastic ability.
  2. If a determination cannot be made when considering the above documents alone, the applicant's practical skills or other pertinent information could be taken into consideration. In these cases, the Board of Education will contact the applicant.


Article 6

  1. 前条第一項の検定のうち、学力及び実務の検定は、有用な知識経験等について、担当しようとする学校の種別及び教科を考慮して行う。
  2. 人物及び身体に関する検定については、委員会規則第二十二条及び第二十四条の規定を準用する。
  1. When making the determination as described above, the candidate's scholastic experience and work experience will be considered together with the target school's type and curriculum.
  2. The candidate must be of healthy mind and body as outlined in rules elsewhere. I believe there are general rules for teacher health described in another document created by the Board of Education. If you have serious health concerns, you'll probably want to look into this.


Article 7: Questions from the Commission of Inquiry

(審議会の諮問) 第七条
  1. 教育委員会は、第三条第五項第四号の理由に正当性があり、かつ、受検者について教育職員としての適格性があると認めたときは、次条に規定する検定審議会に対し、教育委員会の判定の適否について意見を付して諮問する。
  1. As outlined in Article 3 Clause 5, in order to determine an applicant's suitability, the commission may ask some questions as outlined below.


Article 8: The Commission of Inquiry

(審議会) 第八条
  1. 特別免許状の授与に係る検定を、公正かつ適正に行うため、教育委員会の附属機関として検定審議会(以下「審議会」という。)を設置する。
  1. To ensure fairness when deciding who receives a Special Teaching License, a Commission of Inquiry (abbreviated as "commission") has been established as an extension of the Board of Education.


Article 9: Items of Jurisdiction

(所掌事項) 第九条
  1. 審議会は、教育委員会の諮問に応じ、次に掲げる事項に関して審議する。
    1. 受検者の教育職員としての適格性
    2. 任命権者の推薦の正当性
    3. 教育委員会の検定に係る判定の適正性
    4. 前三号に掲げるもののほか、諮問を行うために必要と認める事項
  2. 前項の審議は、第三条の書類及び第七条に規定する教育委員会の意見書に基づいて行うものとする。
  1. The committee considers the following factors when deliberating.
    1. Applicant's eligibility.
    2. Legitimacy of the recommender.
    3. Reasonableness of official certification from the Board of Education.
    4. An inquiry covering items other than those listed in Article 3 above, if deemed reasonable.
  2. The decision is based on the items listed above, the Article 3 documents, and the results of the Article 7 inquiry.


Article 10: Organization

(組織) 第十条
  1. 審議会は、教育職員免許法施行規則(昭和二十九年文部省令第二十六号。以下「免許法施行規則」という。)第六十五条の四に規定する者の中から、教育委員会が委嘱する十人以内の委員をもって組織する。ただし、次の各号のいずれかに該当する者は、委員となることはできない。
    1. 免許法第五条第一項各号に規定する者
    2. 現に他の教育委員会が設置する同一の目的をもって設置された審議会の委員である者

The up-to-ten person committee that makes licensing decisions is organized by the Board of Education. It's not particularly relevant to applicants.


Article 11: Committee Member Terms of Office

(委員の任期) 第十一条
  1. 委員の任期は、三年とする。委員に欠員が生じた場合は、前条第一項の規定に従い、新たに委員を選任する。
  2. 委員は、再任されることができる。
  3. 委員は、心身の故障その他の理由により、その職を遂行できなくなったときは、教育委員会に申し出ることにより、辞職することができる。
  4. 委員は、前条各号の規定に該当するとき、又は免許法施行規則第六十五条の四の規定に該当しなくなったときは、辞職しなければならない。

This paragraph describes how long committee members serve. It's not particularly relevant to applicants.


Article 12: Chairperson's Establishment and Authority

(会長の設置及び権限) 第十二条
  1. 審議会に会長を置く。
  2. 会長は、委員が互選する。
  3. 会長は、審議会を代表し、会務を総理する。
  4. 会長に事故のあるときは、委員の互選により選任された者が臨時にその職務を代理する。

This paragraph states what the committee chairperson has the power to do. It's not particularly relevant to applicants.


Article 13: Convening the Committee

(招集) 第十三条
  1. 審議会は、教育委員会が招集する。
  1. The Board of Education decides when the committee should convene.


Article 14: Jurisdiction of the Commission of Inquiry

(審議会の権限) 第十四条
  1. 審議会は、審議を行う上で必要があると認めるときは、教育委員会の意見を求め、若しくは受検者及び任命権者に対し、それぞれ第三条第一項各号に掲げる以外の書類の提出を求め、又は受検者について実技その他の方法による審査を行うことができる。この場合において、第五条第二項後段の規定を準用する。
  2. 前項の実技の審査は、第五条第二項に規定する教育委員会の検定と同時に行うことができる。
  1. If a committee in deliberation feels it necessary, it may ask the applicant or recommending person for documents other than those specified in Article 3 Clause 1. It may also ask for some other method of demonstrating practical skills.
  2. In the above cases, Article 5 Clause 2 applies.


Article 15: Quorum and Adjudication

(定数及び判定) 第十五条
  1. 審議会は、委員の定数の半数以上の出席がなければ会議を開くことができない。
  2. 審議会の判定は、出席委員全員の一致とする。ただし、意見が分かれたときは、出席委員全員の過半数の意見をもって審議会の判定とすることができる。
  3. 前項ただし書の場合において、可否同数のときは、会長の決するところによる。

More than half the committee must be present for there to be a quorum. It's not particularly relevant to applicants.


Article 16: Findings

(答申) 第十六条
  1. 審議会は、判定の結果について、教育委員会に書面をもって答申するものとする。
  2. 前項の場合において、合格させることが適当でないと判定したときは、その理由を明示するものとする。
  3. 前二項の場合において、前条第二項ただし書の規定による判定を行ったときは、出席委員全員の意見を表示するものとする。
  1. The committee reports its findings to the Board of Education.
  2. In the case where an applicant does not pass, an explanation should be provided.
  3. When this explanation is provided, members of the Board of Education may state their opinions.


Article 17: Determination

(決定) 第十七条
  1. 教育委員会は、審議会の答申を受けて合否の決定を行う。
  2. 教育委員会は、不合格の決定をしたときは、受検者及び任命権者に対し、書面をもってこれを通知する。
  1. The Board of Education reports the committee's determinations of success and failure.
  2. When an applicant fails, the Board of Education delivers that information in a letter to the applicant or the recommending person.


Article 18: Awarding the Special Teaching License

(特別免許状の授与等) 第十八条
  1. 教育委員会は、前条第一項の合格の決定を行ったときは、特別免許状(別記第四号様式)を授与する。
  2. 特別免許状は、東京都内の学校においてのみ有効とする。
  1. The Board of Education gives a Special Teaching License to each successful applicant.
  2. The Special Teaching License is only valid within Tokyo.


Article 19: Conferment Date

(授与年月日) 第十九条
  1. 特別免許状の授与年月日は、二月に受理したものについては四月一日、七月に受理したものについては九月一日とする。
  1. Applicants who pass the test in February receive licenses starting on April 1. Those who pass in July receive licenses starting on September 1.


Article 20: Charge

(委任) 第二十条
  1. この規則の施行に関し必要な事項は、東京都教育委員会教育長が定める。
  1. These rules were created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Superintendent of Education.


Additional Rules


1 この規則は、公布の日から施行する。
2 この規則の施行の際、この規則による改正前の特別免許状に関する規則別記第二号様式及び第三号様式による用紙で、現に残存するものは、所要の修正を加え、なお使用することができる。


1 この規則は、平成十年四月一日から施行する。
2 この規則の施行の際、この規則による改正前の特別免許状に関する規則別記第一号様式及び第五号様式から第七号様式までによる用紙で、現に残存するものは、必要な修正を加え、なお使用することができる。


1 この規則は、公布の日から施行する。
2 この規則の施行の際、この規則による改正前の特別免許状に関する規則別記第五号様式による用紙で、現に残存するものは、必要な修正を加え、なお使用することができる。



1 この規則は、平成二十一年四月一日から施行する。
2 この規則の施行の際、この規則による改正前の特別免許状に関する規則別記第一号様式及び第三号様式による用紙で、現に残存するものは、所要の修正を加え、なお使用することができる。


This list shows when this document was revised since its creation twenty-six years ago. The revisions themselves were made in-place, and there's no reason to concern ourselves with precisely when those revisions occurred.




There are some Word documents available for download from the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education. This includes the application form for the applicant and the letter of recommendation form for the employer.



Here is information on the interview process itself. Procedures vary by prefecture and year. This is information about 2016 in Tokyo (東京都). Although other places are probably similar, they won't be identical.

You need to apply with your school, or your future school. The Tokyo office didn't want to deal with me directly. So, to begin, I convinced my school to sponsor me. My school got the Tokyo rules and application forms from the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education. There were several forms. I filled out one, and my school filled out the rest. We also submitted other paperwork, including sheets proving I taught classes in the past, and the previous year's annual health test. Because my school dealt directly with the office, I didn't have to worry about the details.

The office handling the paperwork is nitpicky but supportive. They asked my school to bring the paperwork down in January, and they went over it to look for mistakes or missing information. That guaranteed the February application be error-free. Actually I wanted to deliver the February application myself, but the office didn't want to deal directly with the applicants. Perhaps they were worried about language issues. In any case, a guy from my school delivered the application.

You can apply for multiple licenses at the same time. I teach English at a junior & senior high school, so I applied for JHS English and SHS English. That meant I had to fill out two application forms differing by a few words and pay the application fee in double (¥5,000 * 2 = ¥10,000).

The application fee is paid when dropping off the applications in early February. When my school's guy dropped off the application and payed the fee, he received and gave me a receipt, and I will use this receipt when picking up the license (assuming I pass the test) in April.

The Interview

Tokyo interviews this year were in late March — March 21 through 24. Mine was the last day. The interview is the test; if you pass the interview, you get the special teaching license. The location was the eighth floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan School Personnel in Service Training Center (東京都教職員研修センター), a five minute walk from the East Exit to JR Suidobashi Station (水道橋). There was a waiting room with staff who examined my Residence Card where I checked in. The waiting room had a nice view, and the staff said I could freely leave the room. I did, to use the restroom and get a can of coffee and kill time. Upon entering the waiting room, they gave me a rule sheet in English and Japanese. Here are the English rules. My comments are in italics.

  • Today's personal interview time is 20 minutes. Please answer briefly to the question. They have lists with many questions, and they'll use the whole twenty minutes.
  • The staff will guide you in front of the interview room about 2 minutes before the time of the interview starting. My start time was delayed, but they told me about it when I arrived, so it wasn't stressful. Just took a long time. Several of us chatted while waiting for our interviews. There were two interview rooms, A and B, and on the day I went, each room had nine interviews. The first one started at 10:30, and the last one started at 15:10.
  • Please wait a moment in the waiting room up to that.
  • When going to the interview, please keep your baggage. You must not go back to the waiting room. In my case, I was the last of the day, and when I finished the interview, the waiting room was locked and the lights were off.
  • Please enter the interview room following the staff. Please knock on the door. When the interview committee replies, you enter the room. This is standard for interviews in Japan. Watch a TV show or anime if you don't know what it looks like.
  • When entering the interview room, please put your coat and baggage on the table near the door.
  • Please tell your full name for the interview committee. There were two people on my committee.
  • When the interview ends, please leave this building. Don't return to the waiting room. Results are announced days later.
  • In the waiting room, don't use communication equipment like a cellular phone. I think they mean don't make calls. Many of us had phones out to exchange contact information and kill time. The staff saw us but didn't say anything, and I don't think it was a problem.
  • In the waiting room, you may eat and drink. There is a vending machine on the 1st floor. The vending machine has drinks, and they're cheap.
  • Please don't enter the restricted area on the map. The 8th floor restroom is only for the women, so when using the men's restroom, please use the 7th floor. They gave me a map when I checked in showing the location of these places. They don't want you to snoop or interfere with other interviews.
  • Don't go out of this building until the interview ends. Nobody was watching. You could easily check in and then go to a convenience store, and nobody would care.
  • If you need any help, just dial [2803], the staff room. (This call doesn't get through to outside.)
  • Your result will be delivered to your school in the beginning of April.

In the interview, the people ask you questions about education, and they tailor it to the type of license you're seeking. I applied for JHS & SHS English, so they asked questions about both junior and senior high school. I wrote and said that I wanted to be a homeroom teacher, so they asked about that, too. Here are some questions that some friends and I were asked. We wrote this information down after our interviews finished, so the wording is only approximate.

  • Why do you want the Special Teaching License?
  • I just wanted to confirm that you want this for English, and for both JHS & SHS. If you apply for two licenses, like I did, you still only have one interview.
  • What sort of experiences do you have that will help you when teaching?
  • What aspects of your personality make you a good teacher?
  • If you become a homeroom teacher, you'll have to give guidance about daily life, not just your subject. What kind of guidance would you give them? This went on for a while. I first talked about my students who will study abroad, but the interviewer wanted to hear more about day-to-day affairs. She asked several follow-up questions to get me focused on the target topic, and that was OK.
  • How can you get students more interested in academics?
  • What would you do if you had a classroom where students were not a cohesive unit and didn't function well together? There is some technical term for this, but I didn't know it, and the man explained it to me.
  • How can you encourage students to be more communicative?
  • How are junior high school students different from high school students?
  • How can you teach your students to be better decision makers?
  • How would you like Japanese students to become?
  • What challenges do you see for yourself as a teacher in the future?
  • What can you work on to be the kind of teacher you want to be?
  • If students are causing problems, what is the most important thing? There was a follow-up question asking whether discipline should be based on the student or based on the bad action.
  • What are the weak points of the American and Japanese educations systems? The candidate was American.
  • Clarification questions about things on the resume.

I felt pretty good about the whole thing. The interviewers were professional staff. I got the impression that they run teacher training. The questions were all fairly standard questions. I have a lot of experience teaching English, and they knew that, so they focused more on matters of school life than English itself. My impression was that they have a long list of questions, and after reading my application and listening to my answers, they selected other related questions to ask. They also asked some follow-up questions. In a few cases, they used some technical terms that I didn't know. They had no problem explaining the terms in simpler Japanese, though. If you don't speak Japanese well, you can request a translator be present when applying, and they will provide one. Beforehand, I felt my Japanese would be sufficient, and it was. The things I didn't understand were technical terms that don't really have direct English translations.



Success! The results were delivered to my workplace in early April. Back in February I was told that I would have to pick up the certificates directly, but that didn't happen. Perhaps an office person from the school picked them up, or perhaps they were mailed — in either case, I didn't have to go anywhere. The certificates are valid for ten years.