A Comprehensive Explanation of the Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance in Japan

We cannot see the future; that is why we have to prepare even for events that we do not wish to happen. Understanding the Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance of Japan and how to apply for it will help you get the kind of help you need, when you need it. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance?
  2. Detailed information
  3. Additional information on claiming insurance
  4. Summary

What is Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance?

As a modern nation that has attained a comparatively high standard of living in terms of its economic and social development, Japan has given sufficient protection for its workers who run the industries and institutions that serve as the backbone of its dynamic and robust national development. Efficient insurance policy application and implementation have played a vital role in providing protection for workers and assuring them of compensation in case they experience disabilities or injuries.   

Under the laws of Japan, workers are enrolled in the Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance which covers and provides financial relief for any illness or injury acquired at work or while commuting to or from work. This is called 労働者災害補償保険, (rōdōsha saigai hoshō hoken) in Japanese and is considered compulsory for all workers, although some specific persons may not apply. It also falls under the general “labor insurance” category. 

The whole idea of insurance is for a worker and his or her family to have the personal assurance that any discontinuance in one’s ability to fulfill the tasks required by the work will not result in loss of income and financial support for basic living expenses. We can look at it as an investment in times of personal or national crisis when abnormal conditions limit individual capacity to perform their job properly and as usual. 

Do Foreigners Apply? 

Any worker, whether he or she is a Japanese citizen or a foreigner working, undergoing training or studying in Japan, may avail themselves of coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Full-time, part time (including international students), or temporary workers are all eligible for insurance coverage, as a general rule. Part-time workers must calculate their working hours in relation to full-time workers and must fall within a certain percentage.

Detailed information

How to Compute Premiums

Insurance premiums, as a general rule, are computed as a certain percentage of the gross take-home salary of every employee and based on the type of business. The maximum premium rate provided by law is 8.8% (usually for mining industries) while the minimum is 0.25%. It is important to check with your company and industry to see where your job falls on the scale. All the above-mentioned premiums must be borne solely by the employer. This puts Japan above many nations which require employees to share in the payment of premiums. 

※ Japan External Trade Organization, "Section 4. Human Resource Management 4.9 Japan's social security system"

Claiming Insurance Benefits and Restrictions

One may claim for insurance benefits immediately after a worker incurs injury or upon properly-diagnosed onset of symptoms of any disease or medical condition. Depending on the type of benefits being claimed, a worker is allowed from 2 to 5 years to file the claim; however, it is to the worker’s advantage to avail themselves of benefits as soon as possible to avoid interruption of claims direly needed by the worker and his or her family. 

※ AMDA International Medical Information Center, “WHAT IS LABOR INSURANCE (WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE)?,”  p.1

As already mentioned, compensation can be availed of by the worker whether the injury occurred or the sickness was acquired in the workplace or on the way to work. This is an essential and valuable aspect as it protects the worker at any time he or she is in transit to and from work and not just while doing the work expected of him or her at the business premises.  

There is a great difference between the benefits from the resulting injuries or disabilities derived from a work-related accident. That is, depending on the actual cause of work stoppage, injury or disaster suffered, the benefits will also differ. For example, workplace disasters, which may result in an injury, a disease, a disability, or a death, will be compensated accordingly, whether medical attention and expense or hospitalization, or funeral expenses or other appropriate benefits. Such benefits cover all “on-the-job” activities whether the worker is actively working, drinking or eating in the premises, commuting to and from work, or while on business trips. However, suicide, self-injury or other personally-performed deeds, such as injuries incurred during work strikes, private fights, or intended criminal acts, will not be covered by the insurance. 

Specific Benefits under the Labor Insurance

Compensation benefits provided by labor insurance include the following:

1. Medical compensation benefits 

2. Off-work compensation benefits 

3. Temporary Disability compensation benefits

4. Compensation benefit for a physical handicap

5. An injury-and-disease compensation benefits 

6. Bereaved family compensation benefit

7. Nursing care compensation benefits 

8. Survivor’s compensation benefits (as a survivor’s pension or as a survivor’s lump sum) 

9. Funeral fees 

10. Secondary health checkup and other benefits

The above includes corresponding benefits for injuries or accidents that occurred while commuting to and from work. Besides those benefits listed above, certain special allowances or lump sum packages may also be granted to workers. 

Additional information on claiming insurance

A worker claiming benefits must fill out a “request statement for medical treatment expenses of medical compensation benefits”. The worker needs to file it, along with any other compensation benefits that the injury or disease may entail, with the certification of the employer and the doctor to the chief of the Labor Standards Bureau, including all pertinent documents and receipts as proof of the expenses incurred in relation to the claim.

Once an accident, injury or sickness occurs, the immediate office supervisor or relative must be notified immediately. Depending on the length of time the worker is off-work, a few days or months, he or she shall be provided appropriate compensation under the insurance applied for until the worker is fit to go back to work. 

For secondary health checkup benefits, should there be abnormalities on the regular checkup, necessary documents like the proof of checkup are needed to be filed within three months to the Labor Standards Bureau.

Claiming Nursing Compensation

For applicants requesting for nursing compensation benefits, a letter of request must be submit it to the chief of the Labor Standards Bureau, along with the following documents: 

1. A medical certificate describing the nature of disability and its conditions and the requirements of nursing care

2. A certification of documented expenses of nursing service, such as receipts or vouchers. 

3. A declaration of actual nursing care being received, either from a relative or other individuals.

Claiming Survivor Compensation

For the survivor compensation benefits, the surviving family members will receive compensation as a pension or a lump sum amount, and sometimes, special allowances are being granted. Special allowances are divided into:

  • a survivor’s special allowance (a lump sum of around ¥3,000,000)

  • a survivor’s special pension based on special salaries (amount are divided based on the number of the surviving family members or the qualified recipients)

  • a survivor’s special lump sum based on special salaries (amount based on the estimated daily benefits multiplied by 1000 days)

To claim compensation for a survivor, the following documents must be submitted: 

  1. An Application for a survivor’s compensation lump sum submitted to the Labor Standards Bureau, along with other documents below 

  2. Death Certificate of the victim worker 

  3. Copy of the family register or a copy of the portion of the family register showing relationship of the applicant and the deceased worker 

  4. For a common-law partner of the applicant, proof of the relation must be submitted 

  5. Proof of dependence on the income of the deceased victim worker

Funeral fees or death benefits shall be given to the surviving relatives or family, either in the form of lump-sum computed as the product of the basic daily benefit multiplied by 30 or 60 days.



For those planning work in Japan, having insurance can provide the necessary protection for yourself. In contrast to some countries which do not have a widely-spread insurance provision, Japan encourages its own citizens as well as foreigners to get insurance. It is one sure way to provide themselves and society, in general, not only the peace of mind but also the practical access to funds to cover unforeseen expenses and much-needed remedies or medication to cure, to minimize or to assuage diseases, injuries, or tragic events.   

As difficult as work can be, it is much more difficult not to be able to work and provide for oneself and one’s family due to unforeseen tragedy. But it does not have to be that way at all. Insurance fills the gaps when humans undergo dire challenges in life. 

For more specifics, please read

The Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Application Guidance for
Foreign Workers

as well as 

The Working Conditions Handbook 

※ Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, “Brochure about Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance for foreign workers”
※ Japan External Trade Organization, "Section 4. Human Resource Management 4.9 Japan's social security system"
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