Note: This FAQ, although comprehensive, is not an official document, and should not be taken as constituting official Japanese government approved answers to your questions about the JET Programme. You must verify all information via official sources. JET-Programme.com cannot be held responsible for any mistakes, misrepresentations or recently updated changes. Last update October 2011
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Debunking JET Program Myths
Courtesy of the JET Programme Official Forum:
“The JET Program is looking for people who don’t speak Japanese” – Although it is not required to have studied about Japan or speak Japanese it is helpful if you have a background and interest in Japan. This myth often is perpetuated from unsuccessful JET applicants who have a background studying Japanese. It is important to remember that the JET Program not only focuses on individuals interested in Japan, but also those interested in teaching and participating in cross-culture exchange.
“The JET Program prefers white Anglo applicants” – The JET Program does not discriminate against someone’s ethnicity. In the application there is no place to indicate your ethnicity. Most current and former JET Participants will tell you that JET participants are very diverse with a mix of different cultures, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic backgrounds.
“It is easier/harder to be accepted at [insert Japanese Embassy/Consulate location here]” – All of the applications that are received by the Japanese Embassy have the same review standards regardless of what Embassy/Consulate you are interviewing through. There is also review standards set for the interviews. There may be a smaller/larger number of participants that make it onto the short-list, but this is a reflection of number of applications received from a certain location, not on the competitive level at each location.
“The JET Program prefers applicants that are currently students who will be graduating in the fall/spring” – Although many of our applicants are current students interested in participating on the JET Program right after graduation every year there are more and more successful applicants who are not recent graduates. This year the majority of the participants we sent from our consulate had already graduated when they applied for the JET.
“The JET Program only has placements in very rural areas of Japan” – Although it is true that most of the placements on the JET Program are rural there are still many suburban and urban placements. These placements may not be in the areas that are as well known (i.e. Tokyo) as other urban placements, but if you are interested in a more urban setting research Japan and find a city that may not have as many placement requests. We recommend referring to p.12 of the JET Brochure put out by CLAIR
“You have a better chance of being accepted to the JET Program if I put “No Preference” when requesting placement” – Ideally a JET Participant will thrive wherever they will be placed in Japan, but this doesn’t mean the program does not take into account an applicant’s placement request and it does not help/hurt you if you put “No Preference” on your application. I recommend that when applying you research Japan and match your interests to the locations you request. JET Participants are in Japan for a minimum of one year, we want them to be comfortable and happy where they will be living.
If I put “No Driver’s License” I will have a better chance of being placed in an Urban area – Whether you have an international driver’s license or not you may be placed in a rural setting where it may be much more convenient to drive. If you do not have a license you may be burdened a difficult commute.
“If I mention my arrest or medical problem, I won’t get in.” Yes, criminal records and medical conditions (including depression and mental illness) are taken into consideration, and yes there is a chance that a criminal record or health condition could potentially lead to a rejection. For the vast majority of applicants, though, neither is an impediment to participating with the JET Program (in most cases, if they are unsuccessful, it is because the overall application was considered to be weaker than others). Whether or not a criminal record or medical condition would disqualify an applicant depends upon the issue and the circumstances surrounding it. Considering that criminal offenses and health concerns can cover a lot of different situations, a large percentage of our applications do include physician forms and background checks, so if you need to submit one as well, it won’t necessarily stand out. The worst thing you could do is neglect to disclose something. If we discover that an applicant withheld something that was supposed to be disclosed in the application, it will result in immediate disqualification (even if it was by accident). If you’re not sure if something should be included or not (or if you’re tempted to “forget” to include something), just put it in. If you even have to ask, it should be in there.
“I have way more experience and interest in JET than my classmate, but he got in and I was rejected. JET is totally random.” There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into the JET selection process. There is nothing random about it. However, selections are made through a combined effort of many people, and as such different people have different opinions and perspectives. Your classmate’s personality could have seemed like a better fit for JET than yours. Or, maybe the people who reviewed your application and interview were harsher than the people who looked at his. We work hard to standardize the selection process, but there will always be that human element there. That will never go away, and neither should it. Our primary goal will always be to find the people whom we feel will make the best JETs. There’s no magic equation that will lead to acceptance. Don’t be resentful and take a rejection to heart. Remember, no one “deserves” to be a JET, at least not more so than anyone else. If you truly are the “perfect JET candidate,” then prove it to us and apply again next year
“In the application, I used paperclips where I was supposed to use staples and staples where I was supposed to use paperclips. Will the application be discarded?” No. Your application won’t be rejected for that, but it will slow down the processing stage, which delays the reviewing stage, which delays the interview notifications. So, to speed up the process (and to avoid potential point reductions), follow the instructions as closely as possible.
“JET Coordinators are scary people. I should never ask them questions.” Well, the scary part might not entirely be a myth, but most of them are pretty friendly and helpful. Please do try to find answers to your questions online, but if you can’t find what you need or if you want extra information/reassurance, contact them. Many of them are JET alumni and care a lot about the program. If you want feedback from someone not involved with the program’s administration, try contacting a nearby JETAA group (just remember that alumni’s situations and experiences won’t necessarily be the same as yours).
Why Join JET?
Q. Who should apply for JET?
- Those interested in foreign cultures, particularly Japan
- Those who are adventurous and like to try new things
- Those interested in teaching or working with children
- Those who want to learn Japanese as a hobby or for career development
- Those who want to work in an office environment different from their home country.
Because it is sponsored by the Japanese government, the JET Programme is extremely secure In addition, government sponsorship means that JETs may be placed virtually anywhere in Japan, from the smallest island to the largest city (however, see below) Further, JET participants are a part of the Japanese community in which they live, so they are not merely outsiders looking in. Finally, JET participants enjoy the advantages of a large international network of alumni and alumni associations.
Generally, they’re looking for is someone who’s outgoing and open-minded, and stands a good chance of being able to adjust to life in Japan. If you have previous experience of living overseas, or of dealing with people from other cultures, then it will probably count in your favour. Also, because it’s the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, part of the idea of which is to promote Japan’s image abroad, to some degree they want people who are likely to achieve influential positions in later life.
Many problems that JETs face result from a lack of preparedness to live and work in Japan, from unrealistic expectations, or from inflexibility or lack of patience For example, professionally trained teachers tend to be frustrated by the limitations inherent in working as assistant teachers Or, some participants become frustrated when they discover that all their classes are not full of motivated, disciplined students. Other problems are a result of the idiosyncrasies or perceived deficiencies of the program itself (such as whether it really fulfills its stated goals of “internationalizing” Japanese citizens or improves their English). This said, most JETs report that they had a positive or very positive experience on the JET Programme (see here.)
The skills you develop are entirely up to you However, JETs usually have ample opportunity to improve:
- Public speaking, teaching and organization skills
- Japanese language skills
- Intercultural management skills
- Personal interests (photography, web design, etc.)
The cost of living in Japan is comparable to that of many western countries, in fact sometimes cheaper. Your actual cost of living depends, of course, on where you are placed In general, rural areas have a lower cost of living than urban areas Regardless of where you are placed, however, the JET remuneration is more than sufficient to cover the cost of living. Indeed, most JETs save enough on the JET Programme to pay off student loans, go to graduate school, travel throughout Japan or Asia, etc. (For cost of living in Tokyo, click here.)
- In 1999, when 3,284 current JETs were asked if they would recommend the program to a friend, 94% said, “Yes.”
- 83% were happy with their geographical placement in Japan
- 68% renewed their contracts for more time on the program (this includes JETs renewing for a third year)
In the 1999 JET Alumni Association Directory, former program participants reported current occupations as diverse as:
- Multimedia software developer
- Director, Business Development and Marketing
- Lawyer or law student
- Teacher: ESL, Science, English, Japanese, etc.
- Graduate student: Japanese Studies, Veterinary Medicine, Journalism . .
- Freelance exhibition curator and writer, focusing on Japanese art
- Owner of language academy and translation/interpreting service
- Retail Director, (famous sports shoe company) Japan
Any citizen of an approved country with a Bachelor’s degree may apply through the Embassy of Japan or a Japanese consulate in their country. However, because the JET Programme is a youth exchange program, applicants over age 39 are less likely to be accepted into the program than younger applicants.
No. You must have graduated by June 30 of the departure year in order to qualify for the JET Programme However, we encourage students to investigate the JET Programme early so that they can prepare for their time in Japan, thereby improving their chances of being accepted by the JET Programme when they do apply For example, taking classes in Japanese language and culture or teaching children are good ways to improve your chances of being accepted.
Yes. However, because the JET Programme is a youth exchange program (not a job opportunity), it is rare for applicants 40 or over to be accepted into the program. For some reason the average age of the New Zealanders and Australians tends to be a bit higher though. Some schools actually express a preference for a mature ALT, so don’t worry if you’re 30-ish and think you may be a little long in the tooth!
Technically, ALTs must have either a Bachelor’s degree OR be certified to teach at primary/elementary schools by June 30 of the departure year In most cases however, a Bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for getting teaching credentials (CIRs must have a Bachelor’s degree.)
Married couples may apply as separate individuals. Although there is no guarantee that married couples will be placed in the same area of Japan or live in the same apartment, married couples are given priority in placement (Be sure that you both request the same placement on the application!). If only one spouse is accepted, the other spouse may accompany him/her on a dependent visa (We encourage non-JET spouses and other dependents to fly to Japan a month or two later than the JET participant to allow time to get situated in Japan.)
Q. I am not married, but have a fiancée or long-term companion. May my fiancée/companion accompany me on the JET Programme?
If both of you are accepted as JETs, you may request placement together and hope for the best However, if one of you is not a participant in the JET Programme, s/he will not be able to obtain a dependent visa to go to Japan. This means that the non-JET partner would have to visit Japan as a tourist (American tourists may visit Japan for up to 90 days without a visa Contact the Visa Section of the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan for more details on the options of non-dependent companions.)
Q. Does having children disqualify me from applying to the JET Programme?
No. However, considerations of schooling, childcare, and other matters may limit placement options JETs with children are advised to arrange in advance for another caregiver (e.g. spouse) to watch their children while they are working in Japan
Q. Do I need to know Japanese to apply?
ALTs and SEAs do not need to know Japanese to apply. However, some knowledge of Japanese does enhance your application because it helps demonstrate a real interest in Japan and enhances your suitability for life in Japan (CIRs must be proficient in Japanese.)
Q. Do I need teaching experience to apply?
No. However, any teaching experience – especially with children – will enhance your application (Experienced professional teachers please see below belw.)
Q. I have lived in Japan for over three years May I still apply?
You may apply only if you have not lived in Japan for more than three of the last ten years.
Q. I have a medical or other condition such that I must live close to a hospital or other facility. Will this affect my chances of being accepted?
Such a condition (depending on the nature of the condition, e.g. whether it is contagious or debilitating) may affect your chances of being placed with a particular contracting organization in Japan, and therefore your ultimate acceptance into the JET Programme. Although every effort is made to find a suitable placement in Japan, your condition may limit your options to such an extent that no placement is possible
Q. What qualities do they look for in a JET applicant?
The JET Programme is looking for applicants who:
(1) Show a genuine interest in Japan and Japanese culture;
(2) Are willing and able to adapt to a different culture for at least one year;
(3) Have the ability and desire to teach children (for CIRs: are willing and able to initiate international exchange activities in your local community);
(4) Are affable, creative, and responsible people who will be good representatives of their country; and,
(5) Are both mentally and physically healthy.
Q. What positions are offered on the JET Programme?
ALT’s are posted in either a particular public high school or junior high school, or in a local Board of Education. The ALT’s primary duty is to assist Japanese language teachers in teaching English in the public school system Other duties might include assisting with speech contests, leading English Clubs, and providing cultural advice to students, teachers, and others in the community.
Q. What does a CIR do?
CIR’s are posted in a local government office or an affiliated organization, such as the Council for the Promotion of International Relations The CIR’s duties vary widely, but his/her primary job is to coordinate and facilitate internationally related activities in the community This may include maintaining a newsletter and/or web letter, translating, interpreting, and some English teaching Much depends on the imagination and skills of the CIR and the availability of resources in the community
Q. What does an SEA do?
SEA’s are sports professionals whose role is to assist with sports training and the planning of sports-related projects Recruitment for the SEA position is carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through overseas Embassies and Consulates, but is independent from the selection of ALTs and CIRs SEA applicants must be highly skilled in their sport, have at least 3 years of coaching experience in his or her specialized sports field, and must be recommended by the participant countries’ National Olympic Committee or government organization Many SEAs are former Olympic athletes. In the 2001-2002 JET Programme, there were 29 participants from 13 countries
Q. How good does my Japanese have to be for the CIR position?
Because a large part of the job involves translation and interpretation, CIRs should have an advanced level of Japanese However, native proficiency is not required to apply (see below)
Q. What percentage of ALT applicants ends up participating in the JET Programme?
The ALT applicant success rate varies from year to year For the 2002 JET Programme, 320 out of about 500 applicants were granted interviews at the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago; out of 320 interviewees, 185 were selected as short-list candidates, with 80 on the alternate list Thus, for this year, 64% of applicants were granted interviews, and 58% were selected as short-list candidates This adds up to an overall success rate of 37% (Except for rare cases, all “short-list” candidates are fully accepted into the JET Programme For an explanation of “short-list,” see below.)
Q. What percentage of CIR applicants ends up participating in the JET Programme?
Because there are relatively few CIR positions, one cannot predict the acceptance rate of CIRs in any given year. The rate depends on how many positions open up in Japan and how many apply for the CIR position. Based on experience at the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, once a CIR reaches the interview stage s/he has around an 80-90% chance of being accepted
Q. What are the working hours per day? Per week?
ALT and CIR working hours vary widely with each contracting institution, but 35 hours per week, 8:30 – 5:00, Monday – Friday is normal Your contracting institution may request occasional overtime work for festivals, etc.
Q. Will I have to work on weekends?
ALTs and CIRs do not work on weekends, except for special occasions (e.g. school festivals) (SEAs should be prepared to work on weekends and evenings, when most sports activities are conducted.)
Q. As an ALT, how many classes would I teach?
Although working conditions vary, most JETs teach from 2 to 4 classes per day
Q. Will I be teaching English as a CIR?
Most CIRs do some English teaching, but usually only once a week (often to their colleagues in their office) In some cases, however, a CIR may do much more
Q. I have never taught before. Will I get any teacher training?
The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, among other consulates, sometimes conducts a teaching workshop prior to departure for Japan (Contact your nearest consulate for more information.) JETs will also attend some training seminars at the Tokyo Orientation and at the Mid-Year Block Conference after their arrival in Japan However, these seminars are not full courses in teaching – most learning is done on the job Resource handbooks are also given to JETs at the Tokyo Orientation to assist in their teaching.
Q. I do not speak any Japanese. Is there any Japanese language training on the JET Programme?
Successful JET applicants are provided a Japanese language book and tapes prior to departure for Japan While in Japan, JETs may enroll in a free correspondence course that includes beginning, intermediate and advanced levels There is also a translation course for CIRs Of course, most JETs study Japanese on their own or in local language study groups.
Q. What is the contract period for the JET Programme?
The minimum contract is one full year, beginning in early August. This contract may be renewed up to four times for a total of five years. Fifth year JETs work as either Specialist Prefectural Advisors or Elementary School ALTs (Only those who have shown outstanding work performance and have a suitable level of Japanese language ability may renew their contract for a fourth and/or fifth year.)
Q. Who, exactly, am I contracting with?
ALTs contract with a local educational institution, usually a public school or local Board of Education; CIRs generally contract with a local government office, such as the Office of International Affairs or similar organization
Q. Is it possible to participate in the JET Programme for less than a year?
No. The minimum contract is one year.
Q. Is it possible to start my contract in spring rather than autumn?
No. The contract period always begins in Autumn.
Q. After being accepted for the JET Programme, can my contract be deferred?
No. However, you may withdraw and reapply the following year provided you have not already been placed with a contracting institution
Q. If I withdraw from the JET Programme will I be disqualified from applying in the future?
With good reason, you may withdraw without penalty prior to finding out where you will be placed in Japan After learning of your placement in Japan, you may still withdraw, but will be disqualified from applying to the JET Programme again (except in certain unavoidable circumstances, such as serious personal injury, illness, or a death in the family).
Q. How much are JETs paid?
The JET remuneration is ¥3.6 million per year, or ¥300,000 per month (click here for a currency exchange calculator) After deductions for health, pension, and employment insurance, JETs take home approximately ¥258,000 per month (Click here for a cost-of-living-in-Tokyo link.) However, JETs who have been enrolled in the pension system for a minimum of 6 months are eligible to receive a partial refund of their premiums after they leave the JET Programme and return to their home country
Q. Does the JET Programme cover the costs of traveling to Japan?
Roundtrip airfare between a JET participant’s home country and Japan is provided However, return airfare may be rescinded if the JET does not complete his or her contract Any costs incurred for transportation to the departure airport must be borne by the participant
Q. Are JETs covered by any insurance policies?
All JETs are required to enroll in the national health and pension insurance system, as well as the national employment insurance system The contracting institution subsidizes the monthly premium for this insurance, with the JET participant portion amounting to approximately ¥42,000 per month in total Further, all JETs are automatically enrolled in the JET Programme Accident Insurance system, but premiums are paid entirely by the contracting organization
Q. How good is the health insurance coverage?
Quite good The national health insurance system covers 80% of medical expenses of illness, including some dental coverage The remaining 20% – less a ¥5,000 deductible – is covered by the JET Programme Accident Insurance policy (By and large, coverage is comparable to most insurance policies in the United States Some restrictions do apply, so please contact your nearest Consulate General of Japan or the Embassy of Japan for details of coverage.)
Q. Do all JETs get the same pay and benefits?
In terms of salary and health/pension/employment insurance, all JETs get the same benefits However, housing and other costs of living may vary widely from JET to JET Moreover, the quality of housing and other amenities varies as well For instance, some JETs may get brand new apartments, while others get older accommodations (see below)This said, in the end, most JETs are satisfied with their situation
Q. Is housing provided for JET participants?
No In principle, all living costs must be borne by the JET participant However, in almost all cases (99.9%) your contracting institution will find housing for you prior to your arrival in Japan
Q. How expensive is housing in Japan?
Most JETs pay between ¥20,000 and ¥60,000 per month (click here for exchange rate calculator) In the worst-case scenario, you might have to pay up to 6 months rent in advance (This does not happen often.) On the other hand, many JETs live in very inexpensive subsidized housing Fortunately, your remuneration is quite sufficient to cover whatever your housing costs might be.
Q. What is the quality of housing for JETs?
The quality of housing for JETs varies widely You may live in a small apartment or you may live in a house Most JETs live in an apartment building with two or so rooms and a kitchen Some are new and completely furnished, while others come completely unfurnished (bare bulbs and all) Most fall somewhere in between Generally speaking, rural JETs live in larger places than do urban JETs
Q. What if I don’t like my housing?
If you do not like your housing, you are free to move However, all moving costs must be borne by the JET participant, and can be very expensive (as much as six months rent in advance)
Q. How many days off will I get on the JET Programme?
All JETs are allowed a minimum of 10 days paid leave However, most JETs have been allowed from 12-20 days; JETs also get about 15 national holidays Many JETs use this time to travel around Japan or East Asia, or to visit their home country (JETs should, of course, arrange in advance with their contracting institution before taking days off.)
Q. What is the application process?
(1) August–September: Obtain a new application from www.embjapan.org or your nearest Consulate General of Japan; (2) Early December: Application deadline; (3) Late January: Results of written application; (4) February: Interview; (5) Late March-early April: Results of interview; (6) May-June: Collection of additional documents and placement in Japan; (7) July-August: Departure for Japan
Q. What materials do I need to prepare for the application?
Generally speaking, for the written application you will need (1) a completed official application form; (2) a self-assessment medical form; (3) a statement of purpose; (4) two letters of reference; (5) official transcripts of all college courses; (6) a certification of graduation or enrollment from a college or university; and (7) a confirmation card You may download and print these forms or contact your local Consulate General of Japan. Also, for most of these documents you are required to submit two (2) copies plus the original document Please consult the official application packet for further information and details NOTE: All of the above documents must be submitted to the Embassy of Japan together in one envelope by early December (usually December 5 or 6) DO NOT SUBMIT APPLICATIONS TO A CONSULATE Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered, so please mail early in case of post office or other delays
New online applications are usually available around the end of August You may download one from the Embassy of Japan website If you are unable to download and print the online application, please request a hardcopy application from the Consulate General of Japan in your area. Hardcopy applications are usually available in late September
Q. When is the application deadline?
The Embassy of Japan must receive complete applications (including ALL required documents) by early December (usually around the 4th or 5th – check the official application of the application year for the exact date) New applications become available in August or September (see above), so start early to avoid missing the deadline. Late applications will not be considered!
Q. Do I need to send a copy of my diploma for the written application?
If you have already graduated from college or university, you may submit three copies of your diploma as proof of graduation If you have not yet graduated but expect to graduate by June of the following year, please have your Registrar provide an official document certifying your current enrollment and the date you are expected to graduate (Note: If accepted into the JET Programme, those who graduate after the application due date will need to provide proof of graduation after they actually graduate – see below.)
Q. How are written applications evaluated?
Applications are graded on a point scale from zero to 100, with points being allotted for different aspects of the application, such as quality of the statement, references, teaching experience, Japan-related experience, international/intercultural experience, and so on Those who receive points above a certain threshold are then granted interviews
Q. How can I improve my written application?
The statement of purpose and references are of prime importance, so concentrate your efforts on these On your essay, be concrete and specific to show your motivation and readiness to teach and live in Japan for one year, your skills, what you bring to the program and what you expect to get out of it, etc Of course, make sure your essay is coherent and proofread. Regarding references, be sure the writers know both you and the JET Programme – explain the JET Programme to them if necessary If you have time, try to get some teaching and/or Japan-related experience or knowledge before you apply For example, you might take a class in Japanese, or do some self-study. Every little bit helps!
Q. Where should I ask to be placed?
You shouldn’t ask for Kyoto (without VERY good reason), because that’s the most popular place and demand far outstrips supply. In fact this is true of many city placements in general; whereas the private conversation schools such as Nova and GEOS tend to be in more densely-populated areas, public schools are everywhere and so the majority of JETs end up in relatively rural locations.
If you do ask for Kyoto, and get it, then you may well find yourself in northern Kyoto-fu (prefecture; for some reason Osaka and Kyoto are -fu and everywhere else, except Hokkaido, is -ken), three hours away from Kyoto-shi (city). A better bet would be to ask for a lesser-known place in the vicinity of where you want to go, for example (staying in the Kyoto area) Shiga-ken, Nara-ken or Mie-ken. If possible, give a convincing reason to illustrate why you want to go there – for example relatives, friends, a previous visit or a sister city relationship.
Generally speaking, yes. Teaching experience and a proven desire to teach children is always helpful in applying to the JET Programme However, experienced professional teachers are sometimes frustrated on the JET Programme because, as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), they are not in complete charge of their class in terms of curriculum, content, discipline, methods of teaching, etc Because of this, there is some worry that professional teachers would not complete their contract If you are a professional teacher, please be sure you fully understand the working conditions of the ALT before applying for the JET Programme.
Q. Does an ALT applicant have a better chance of being accepted than a CIR applicant?
Not necessarily. You should apply for the position you desire most and are qualified for.
It depends on your Japanese skills If you are below level 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam (i.e. level 3 or 4), you should probably not apply for the CIR position If you are level 2~2.5, your chances of being accepted as a CIR are iffy, but possible If your Japanese proficiency is level 2.5 or higher AND you are very interested in the CIR position, you should apply for the CIR position
Q. If I am accepted as an ALT, may I later switch to the CIR position?
It happens, but only rarely There must be a CIR position open in your prefecture and agreement on the part of both contracting institutions.
Q. If I apply for the CIR position and am not accepted, may I switch to the ALT position?
In some cases, with the interview judges’ recommendation and consent from Tokyo, CIR applicants may switch to the ALT position. However, there are no guarantees
Q. May I use this year’s application for next year’s JET Programme?
Interview Process and selection
Q. If I am selected for an interview, where will the interview take place?
All interviews are usually held at the Embassy of Japan or at Consulates General of Japan that yoiu applied to. You must specify at which consulate you would like to interview on the written application. Do this carefully, because your interview consulate is usually the same as your departure consulate (see below)
Q. What happens in the interview?What kind of questions should I expect?
Interviews may vary from consulate to consulate, but usually between 20-40 minutes each and conducted by a panel of three interview “judges.” These judges consist of one consular representative, one former JET participant, and one academic representative. You should prepare yourself for the interview by imagining that you are an interviewer charged with the task of finding JET participants who (1) demonstrate good character and would be good representatives of the your country; (2) are willing and able to commit to at least one year in Japan; (3) are willing and able to teach Junior and Senior High Japanese students and teachers about your culture while learning about Japan themselves; and, (4) demonstrate creativity, flexibility and patience Ask yourself, “What questions could I ask to evaluate these four qualities?” Then, answer them in a brief but thoughtful way.
Q. What happens after the interview?
You will be notified by early April of your applicant status (not accepted, alternate, or short-list). Successful applicants will be asked to submit certain documents to their interview consulate (See below)
Q. What does “alternate status” mean?
All short-list and alternate status JETs are ranked by interview scores “Alternate status” means that, should a short-list applicant withdraw from the JET Programme, the top ranking alternate will be asked to upgrade to short-list status Upgrades take place on a rolling basis until the day of departure and even beyond Although conditions change from year to year, in past years a majority of alternate JET applicants have eventually been upgraded However, lower ranked alternates may have to wait until late July or even August before they are upgraded (if they are upgraded at all).
Q. What does “short-list status” mean?
“Short-list status” means that an applicant has been accepted into the JET Programme pending placement with a particular Contracting Organization (school or government organization) in Japan If a short-list applicant becomes debilitated or otherwise unable to perform his or her duties as a JET, he or she may not be placed in Japan; in effect, he or she would be disqualified from participating in that year’s JET Programme However, in many cases, the affected JET applicant would be able to re-apply for the next year of the JET Programme without resubmitting all the required documents
Q. If I am selected as an alternate, what are my chances of being upgraded to short-list status JET?
Your chances of being upgraded from alternate status to full-status JET depend on your position on the alternate list and how many full-status JETs withdraw before or shortly after the departure date In the past, many or most JETs on the alternate list have eventually been upgraded to full-status JETs However, be warned that some alternates have had to wait until the week before departure or even later before learning of their new status. If you are not upgraded private alternatives are discussed here.
After the interview, successful applicants will be required to submit the following documents: (1) Reply Form with two identical passport-sized photographs on photo paper; (2) Health Certificate filled out by a doctor (including check of lungs); (3) Proof of Graduation; and, (4) Visa Application with valid passport (sent to the departing consulate following placement in Japan) There are no application fees or other payments required by the JET Programme However, you may incur some expenses in the process, such as mailing costs, passport photo fees, transcript ordering fees, or doctor’s fees We strongly encourage you to return the Reply Form and other documents promptly to avoid incurring costs for overnight mailing or even disqualification The Reply Form, in particular, MUST be submitted by the deadline (specified by your interview consulate) to avoid risk of disqualification We also recommend that you make photocopies of all documents that you mail in case they are somehow lost Finally, since you will need more passport photographs for the visa application and other official documents in Japan, we recommend that you obtain extra photographs now to save the trouble later.
Q. If I am selected as an alternate status JET participant, are there any other documents that I will have to prepare? What additional costs should I expect to incur?
After the interview, applicants chosen for alternate status will be required to submit the following two documents: (1) Reply Form with two identical, passport-sized photographs on photo paper; (2) Health Certificate filled out by a doctor (including check of lungs); and (3) Photocopy of Passport (the page containing your photograph, expiration date, and passport number) Later, if the alternate is upgraded to short-list status, s/he will need to submit Proof of Graduation and Visa Application with valid passport (sent to the departing consulate following placement in Japan) There are no application fees or other payments required by the JET Programme However, you may incur some expenses in the process, such as mailing costs, passport photo fees, transcript ordering fees, or doctor’s fees We strongly encourage you to return the Reply Form and other documents promptly to avoid incurring costs for overnight mailing or even disqualification The Reply Form, in particular, MUST be submitted by the deadline (specified by your interview consulate) to avoid risk of disqualification We also recommend that you make photocopies of all documents that you mail in case they are somehow lost
Read the Reply Form carefully On it you need to include your name (exactly as printed on your passport), date and place of birth, your acceptance or non-acceptance of the appointment, your signature, the day’s date, your current and permanent contact information, whether a spouse/partner will accompany you, the airport and city from which you will depart, your passport number and expiration date, and two passport-sized photographs taken within the last three months DO NOT FORGET TO SIGN THE REPLY FORM.
Q. I only have one address Do I need another one?
In case we cannot contact you at your primary address and phone number(s)/email(s), it is good to have secondary contact information through which we can contact you if the need arises If you do not have an email address, please try to get one They are very useful for quick communication when opportunities and events come up
Q. I do not have a passport Since the Reply Form asks for a passport number, what should I do?
If you do not yet have a passport, leave the form blank Include with your Reply Form a note explaining when you expect to be issued a passport We strongly recommend that you apply for one immediately at your nearest passport agency, as the process can take over a month. Further, be sure that the name on your Reply Form is identical to the one you wish to have on your passport
Yes, if they are clear (high resolution) and on photo paper The photographs must be head and shoulder face-shots, similar to photographs for passports.
Q. May I use photocopies of my passport photograph on the Reply Form?
The Certificate of Health must be completed by a licensed physician who knows your health history Along with the usual physical tests (height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, eyesight and hearing), you will need a urinalysis, medical history (checklist of disorders), and lung examination An X-ray is requested for the lung examination, but is NOT required if your doctor does not recommend one AND writes a comment (e.g. “lungs clear, healthy…”) in the applicable section
Proof of Graduation can be shown in one of three ways: By submitting (1) a copy of your college diploma, (2) an official transcript that has the degree, major and date of completion written on it, and (3) an official letter from your school Registrar that states the degree, major and date of completion of your requirements for graduation (the letter should have an official seal or signature)
Q. I will not receive my diploma until after the deadline for Proof of Graduation What should I do?
Please submit either an official transcript OR an official letter from your school Registrar Either one must state the degree received, the major granted, and the date you completed requirements for graduation
Q. Do I submit Proof of Graduation with my Reply Form?
You should submit your Proof of Graduation only AFTER you graduate Thus, even if you sent in, say, your transcripts with the written application, you still need to submit Proof of Graduation later after you actually graduate The only time you need not send in Proof of Graduation later in the process is if you had sent 3 copies of your diploma with your written application
Do NOT apply for a visa until you receive a visa application and further information directly from the Consulate General of Japan or Embassy where you interviewed You will send your visa application (with valid passport) directly to the Visa Section of your DEPARTURE consulate Please send the application at least ten days prior to your departure date If you will be abroad during the summer, please plan to return in time to send in your passport and visa application ten days prior to departure (If this is impossible, please contact your departure consulate.)
In principle, your departure consulate should be the same as your interview consulate. However, if necessary, you may depart from a different consulate provided the departure consulate is part of the same group as the interview consulate Because of the large numbers of JETs going to Japan each year, Japanese consulates are divided into Groups A and B If your interview consulate is in Group A (e.g. Chicago), then your departure consulate must be in Group A also (e.g. New York) There are no exceptions to this, so think carefully before you specify your interview consulate on your reply form (See here for a list of Group A and B consulates. Refer to the back of the current official application for the official list of group A and B consulates.)
You may be placed anywhere in Japan from the smallest island to the largest city However, please note that the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto place very few JETs Also, be forewarned that “Tokyo” includes many small islands within its administrative district!
Q. Do I have a choice of where I am placed?
On the written application, you may specify up to three placement preferences (if any) The program does its best to place participants close to their preferred location, but does not make any guarantees For example, you may request the city of Osaka and end up on an island off Okinawa Remember, all placements are final, so be prepared to go anywhere in Japan.
Q. What if I do not like my placement?
If you do not like your placement, you may withdraw from the program However, if you withdraw after you learn of your placement with a contracting institution (your school or government office), you are disqualified from applying to the JET Programme again [Note: Most JETs express satisfaction with their placement, even if they were not placed in one of their requested areas.]
Q. What should I bring with me to Japan?
The list is many and varied. Just be sure to bring things from your hometown and state to show students and colleagues For example, photographs or videos of everyday items and events (e.g. neighborhood baseball game, school rally, your home, bedroom, dog, grandma, etc.) are good Please see some forums and other websites for information on preparing to go to Japan
Q. I am on medication. Will I be able to bring it with me to Japan?
Generally speaking, you may bring up to a two-month’s supply of over-the-counter medication to Japan However, some common medications sold in your home country may be illegal in Japan because they contain stimulants such as pseudoephedrine or codeine. Thus, common drugs such as Actifed, Sudafed and Vicks inhalers can be illegal to bring into Japan. Please check with Japanese customs before bringing medications into Japan.
Regarding prescription medications, you may generally bring up to a one-month’s supply provided you (1) bring it unopened in original packaging; (2) bring a copy of the prescription; and, (3) bring a letter from your doctor stating what the drugs are for However, some restrictions may apply, so please check with Japanese customs before bringing medications into Japan
Q. Are there any orientations or other organized events prior to departure?
Organized events prior to departure vary from consulate to consulate. Consulates and JET alumni groups may have a non-mandatory Pre-Departure Q & A/Teacher’s Workshop sometime in June.
Departure for Japan
Q. When is the departure date for Japan?
It varies from year to year, but departure is usually in mid to late July or early August (see the official application for specific dates, or check with your nearest Consulate General of Japan) The Group A consulate departure date is about one week earlier than the Group B consulate departure date (See here for a list of Group A and B consulates.) Remember, most consulates hold a mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation the day before departure day, so you must plan to be at the departure site on that day Do not plan to attend any weddings, etc., on the day before departure!
Q. May I depart at on a different date than the official departure date?
No All JET participants must depart for Japan on the officially designated date (usually mid to late July or early August), from the airport designated by the applicant on his/her reply form Remember also that JET participants must depart from a location (city) that is in the same group as his or her interview consulate (See here for a list of Group A and B consulates.)
Q. How much baggage can I take with me to Japan?
Baggage allowance is standard for any international flight. Generally, airlines allow one carry-on bag and two checked pieces. This can be either 20kg or 40kg depending on your point of departure. Please check with your designated airline (JAL, ANA, Northwest or other major airline) for specific details as to size and weight Any baggage over the limit will incur significant charges; we recommend shipping everything you can ahead of your departure
Q. I will be living in Japan during the summer of departure. Do I still have to depart from my home country location?
Yes, unless you have a gaijin tōrokushō (foreign resident registration), you MUST depart from your home country.
Q. I heard that foreign residents of Japan need not return home for departure. Is this true?
As of 2002, this is true; foreign residents may “depart” through Tokyo However, before making plans please confirm this with your nearest Consulate General of Japan or Embassy of Japan.
Q. What happens after I arrive in Japan?
After arrival at Narita International Airport in Japan, all JETs go to Tokyo for a three-day Tokyo Orientation, where you will attend seminars, speeches and receptions with approximately 3,000 fellow JETs. Someone from your contracting institution will then take you to your host prefecture, where you will have another orientation Rest assured that you will be well taken care of in Japan – you will not be “thrown to the wolves,” so to speak (You will get more detailed information after acceptance into the JET Programme.)
Q. What if I have a problem while on the JET Programme? What resources are available for me?
The JET Programme offers a full range of support services for most problems that may occur These services range from your immediate Japanese supervisor to prefecture advisors to trained counselors working in the central government.
Q. Is airfare for the return home covered by the JET Programme?
Yes, provided you complete your contract If you withdraw from the JET Programme before completion of your contract, your contracting institution reserves the right to refuse provision of return airfare.
Q. What happens after I return home from Japan?
Before you leave Japan, you should contact your successor (if any) and apprise him or her of what to expect. After returning, you have no further obligations However, many former JETs join one of the JET Alumni chapters around the world. Activities of JETAA chapters vary, but many host social events, publish newsletters, provide information on work and educational opportunities for former JETs, and assist the local Consulate General of Japan or Embassy with JET-related activities.
Please advise us (contacts at bottom of the page) if you know more to add or discuss these at our Virtual JET Workshop Forum