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1. What is the JET Programme?
1.1. What is the JET Programme?
The JET Programme is an expansive exchange programme administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) in Japan. Through the JET Programme, people from participating countries are invited to Japan and appointed to work as ALTs, CIRs or SEAs by local governments or private schools in Japan for one year. The JET Programme aims to promote internationalisation in Japan’s local communities by improving foreign language education and fostering international exchange at the community level.
1.2. Why is it called an exchange programme?
Firstly, each participant in the JET Programme brings their culture to a local community in Japan, helping it gain personal contact with peoples of other countries. Secondly, each JET Programme participant will learn a great deal about Japan, its language, culture and people. It is expected that JET Programme participants will share what they learned with their family and friends upon returning home.
1.3. Is JET like a study abroad programme?
No. An appointment on the JET Programme is a professional commitment with specific terms and conditions set by the appointing local government or private school. Participants are expected to carry out their work duties during their appointment as a civil servant or educator.
1.4. What distinguishes the JET Programme from other English teaching opportunities in Japan?
The JET Programme is sponsored by three Japanese Ministries (MIC, MOFA, MEXT) and JET Programme participants are placed within local governments or private schools all throughout Japan. As a government-sponsored programme, the JET Programme is not a business or language school. The goal of the JET Programme is to promote internationalisation in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education and fostering international exchange at the community level.
1.5. What kind of training and support is there for JET participants?
Upon arriving in Japan, JET Programme participants attend a two-day training conference in Tokyo. After departing for their placements, most participants receive a more specialised orientation at the prefectural level. Most participants also take part in annual skills development training conferences.
CLAIR provides participants with various forms of support, including: free online Japanese language courses, translation and interpretation skills acquisition training, grants for TEFL certification and the JLPT, numerous publications and a monthly newsletter with useful information, mental health counseling service, career fairs, and more.
>> Support
1.6. What is expected of JET participants?
JET Programme participants are cultural ambassadors of their home countries, a role that extends beyond regular working hours. JET Programme participants must constantly be aware of their behaviour and should make efforts to adapt to Japan’s culture and their work environment. JET Programme participants are expected to take an active role in the workplace and community, which may include staying late at school to help with club or sports activities, volunteering with local groups, and participating in community events.
1.7. When does the JET Programme year begin?
JET Programme participants arrive in spring and summer every year. In principle, participants from Brazil, China, Korea, and Peru come to Japan in spring (early April), while those from other countries come in summer (late July/early August).
1.8. How long can I participate in the JET Programme?
Appointments on the JET Programme are for a period of one year, and acceptance into the programme is not a guarantee of more than one year of participation. If both the contracting organisation and the JET Programme participant are in agreement, JET Programme participants may be reappointed up to two more times, allowing a total of three years of participation on the JET Programme. A JET Programme participant whose work performance is deemed to be of an exceptionally high standard may be reappointed an additional two more times, allowing for a maximum total of five years on the JET Programme.
1.9. Are JET Programme participants employees of the JET Programme, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology or CLAIR?
No. JET Programme participants are appointed (employed) by various individual institutions or local government organisations (also called contracting organisations) in Japan and the terms and conditions of the appointment are set by each local government.
2. Eligibility Criteria
― Criteria ―
2.1. What are the general criteria for joining the JET Programme?
Please refer to the eligibility criteria section.
>> Eligibility
― Participating Countries ―
2.2. My home country is not on the participating countries list. Can I apply to participate on the JET Programme?
Unfortunately, citizens of non-participating countries may only apply to participate in the JET Programme if there is a specific request from a local government in Japan for a JET Programme participant from that country. Please contact the Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan in your country of citizenship for further information.
2.3. I am not from an English-speaking country, but I majored in English and have experience as an English teacher. Can I apply to become an ALT?
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to participate as an ALT. Please contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan in your country of citizenship for further information.
― Degree・Certification・Experience ―
2.4. I graduated from a Junior or Technical College. Can I apply for the JET Programme?
No, you must have a Bachelor’s Degree or three-year teacher training certification or have obtained one by the date designated by your Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan.
2.5. I graduated from a teacher’s training school. Can I apply for the JET Programme?
You can apply to participate in the JET Programme if, by the date designated by your Embassy or Consulate General of Japan, you have completed at least a three-year education/teacher training programme that qualifies you to teach at elementary, junior high, or senior high schools by the arrival date designed by your Embassy or Consulate General of Japan.
2.6. I have not graduated college or university, but I have lived in Japan and I have teaching experience. Can I apply for the JET Programme?
No, all applicants must meet the eligibility criteria, which include at least a Bachelor’s Degree or three-year teacher training certification by the time of departure for Japan.
2.7. Do I need a teaching diploma or TESOL/TEFL certification/teaching certificate to apply for the JET Programme?
A teaching certificate, diploma, or TESOL/TEFL certification is not a requirement for participation on the JET Programme, but such certifications will be an asset during the selection process.
2.8. Do I need a Bachelor’s Degree in English, Japanese, or education to apply for the JET Programme?
No, a Bachelor’s Degree in any field is sufficient to meet the eligibility criteria.
2.9. Do I need teaching experience to apply for the JET Programme?
No, teaching experience is not a requirement for participation on the JET Programme, but such experience will be an asset during the selection process.
― Japanese Ability ―
2.10. I do not speak Japanese. Can I apply for the JET Programme?
Yes, you can apply for the JET Programme even if you do not speak any Japanese. However, if accepted, you are expected to make a continual effort to learn and improve your Japanese skills in order to better communicate with the people around you.
2.11. I want to be a CIR but I am unsure about my Japanese language ability. What is a good measure?
Applicants for the CIR position must demonstrate a grasp of Japanese equivalent to the JLPT N2 or N1 levels. CIR applicants have typically studied Japanese for a minimum of two years at the university level. Additionally, CIRs are tested in Japanese at the interview. While JLPT certification is not a requirement for applying to be a CIR, many CIRs possess a Japanese level equivalent to level N1 of the JLPT.
― Age Limit ―
2.12. Is there a minimum/maximum age requirement for applying to the JET Programme?
No, as long as applicants meet all other eligibility criteria, there is no age requirement limit. However, applicants will be judged on maturity, professionalism, and ability to adjust to other cultures.
3. Job Types
3.1. What are the work duties of an ALT?

The work duties of an ALT will vary depending on the needs of the contracting organisation, however, common ALT duties include the following:

・Assisting in foreign language classes, etc. taught in elementary, junior and senior high schools
・Assisting in foreign language training activities, etc. in elementary schools
・Assisting in the preparation of materials for teaching a foreign language
・Assisting in the language training of teachers of a foreign language, etc.
・Assisting in extracurricular activities and club activities
・Providing information on language and other related subjects for people such as teachers’ consultants and foreign language teachers
・Assisting in foreign language speech contests
・Engaging in local international exchange activities
・Other duties as specified by the contracting organisation

3.2. What are the work duties of a CIR?

The work duties of a CIR will vary depending on the needs of the contracting organisation, where they generally assist in projects related to international activities carried out by the contracting organisation. Such activities may include:

・Editing, translating and compiling brochures into a foreign language; assisting in planning, designing and implementing international exchange programmes including international economic exchange programmes; assisting in hosting official guests from abroad and interpreting at events for overseas visitors or for local foreign residents in the community
・Assisting in language instruction of employees of the contracting organisation and local residents
・Assisting with and participating in the activities of local private groups or organisations engaged in international exchange
・Assisting in exchange activities (including school visits) related to local residents’ cross-cultural awareness and understanding as well as in supporting activities for foreign nationals residing in Japan
・Other duties as specified by the contracting organisation

3.3. What is the difference between ALT and CIR?
From the applicant’s point of view, according to the eligibility criteria CIRs must have a high level of Japanese language ability, while ALTs need no previous Japanese language experience. As for their general job descriptions, an ALT’s primary work duty is language education, while a CIR’s primary work duty is helping his/her office with international events and activities.
3.4. Do CIRs teach English?
CIRs may also teach English (or another language). While the work duties of each CIR differ as the needs of each contracting organisation vary greatly, some will include teaching English (or another language) to some degree, such as infrequent seminars or regular school visits.
3.5. I speak some Japanese but not too much. Should I try for ALT or CIR?
In terms of numbers, just over 90% of all JET Programme participants are ALTs. Rather than basing your application on language ability, it is better to think about what you would like to do. In some cases, even those participants who speak very high levels of Japanese prefer to be ALTs and work in schools and boards of education as opposed to working in an office, like most CIRs do.
3.6. What is an SEA?
SEAs (Sports Exchange Advisors) are JET Programme participants placed in local authorities engaged in sports-related activities, and are involved in international exchange activities through the instruction of specific sports.
4. Application Process
― General ―
4.1. How do I apply for the JET Programme?
The application and selection process for the JET Programme is handled by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) through its embassies and consulates in participating countries. For country-specific information, please contact or visit the homepage of the Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan in your country of citizenship.The application and selection process for the JET Programme is handled by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) through its embassies and consulates in participating countries. For country-specific information, please contact or visit the homepage of the Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan in your country of citizenship.
>> Participating Countries
4.2. Where can I obtain an application form to apply for the JET Programme?
Contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan in your country of citizenship. Please note that application forms are not available in Japan.
>> participating countries
4.3. When is the application deadline?
Specific deadlines for applications vary by country. Please contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan in your country of citizenship to find out the application deadline.
4.4. Can I apply to be both a CIR and ALT and choose after I am accepted?
No, it is not possible to apply for both positions at the same time; you will have to evaluate yourself based on the eligibility criteria for each position and apply for the position that best suits you.
4.5. Are late applications accepted?
Late applications are not accepted. Furthermore, the applicant will be disqualified should he/she fail to meet any subsequent deadline at any stage in the application process.
― Nationality ―
4.6. I have dual nationality with Japan and one of the countries participating in the JET Programme. Can I still apply for JET?
Yes, but if you are accepted to the Programme you must renounce your Japanese citizenship before submitting your Reply Form. Please contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan in your country of citizenship for further information.
4.7. I have dual citizenship with two participating countries (e.g. Canada and UK), can I apply from both?
No, you can only apply through one participating country. Please choose the country through which you would prefer to apply, keeping in mind that your interview and point of departure will be in that country.
4.8. I am not currently living in my country of citizenship, but the country that I live in also participates in the JET Programme (e.g. US citizen living in Australia). Can I apply from here?
Yes, you can apply from the country in which you currently reside. However, you must send your application documents to the Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan in the country in which you have citizenship, provided that country is one of the countries which participate in the JET Programme. Also, you will have to return to your country of citizenship for the interview if one is granted to you.
4.9. I currently live in Japan. Can I apply for the JET Programme from here?
Yes, you can apply from Japan. However, you must apply through the Embassy or Consulate (General) of Japan in the country in which you have citizenship, provided that country is one of the countries which participate in the JET Programme. Also, you will have to return to your country of citizenship for the interview if one is granted to you. Interviews are not held in Japan.
4.10. My home country is on the list of participating countries, but the Japanese Embassy told me that they are not currently accepting applications to the JET Programme. How can I join the JET Programme?
For some participating countries, there will only be a recruiting process if there is a specific request from a local government in Japan to host a JET Programme participant from that country. To find out if a local government in Japan has made a request to host a citizen of your country, please consult with the Embassy of Japan in your home country (in some cases it may be helpful to consult with the nearest Japanese consulate).
― Special Circumstances ―
4.11. How are couples (married, engaged) treated in the selection process?
Couples are treated the same as every other JET Programme applicant; each applicant is considered based on the strength of their application and their success at the interview.
4.12. I have a criminal record. How will this affect my prospects for being accepted onto the JET Programme?
A criminal record will not necessarily disqualify you. However, the seriousness of the crime will be taken into consideration and a final decision will be made whether or not you will be offered a position on the Programme.
4.13. I am worried that a medical condition will prevent me from being accepted on the programme. What should I do?
People with various medical conditions have been accepted on to the JET Programme in the past. Applicants are evaluated on their individual merit. Your medical condition should not preclude you from participating, provided that both you and your doctor believe you are fit to participate in the JET Programme. It is important that you disclose any and all medical conditions as required in the application form. Failing to do so can result in disqualification. Disclosing medical information may also aid in placing accepted participants.
― Placement ―
4.14. I have lived in Japan before. Can I go to the same place as a JET Programme participant?
It is possible, but highly unlikely that you will be placed in the same area or in a nearby location. New JET Programme participants are placed after careful consideration of both their requests and the needs of the contracting organisation (employer).
4.15. I am applying to the programme with my spouse. Will we be placed in the same location?
If you and your spouse are selected as successful candidates for the JET Programme, efforts will be made to place you in the same or neighbouring contracting organisations. However, please be aware that this is not possible in every case.
4.16. I would rather not be placed in an isolated area. What are my chances of being placed in a big city?
The goal of the JET Programme is to enhance internationalisation in local communities in Japan and there is a relatively low demand for JET Programme participants from urban local authorities. For this reason, few JET Programme participants are placed in large cities. The majority of JET Programme participants are placed in small to medium sized cities or in small towns or villages.
― Applying Again ―
4.17. I applied to the JET Programme before but was not accepted. Can I apply again?
Yes, you can re-apply the following year, but you will have to complete and submit the entire application packet again with new copies of all necessary supporting documents.
4.18. I participated on the JET Programme before. Can I apply again?
Former JET Programme participants can re-apply but only under the following conditions:
1. You have not participated in the JET Programme in the last three years and;
2. You were a JET Programme participant for less than five years in total.
― Scheduling / Deferment ―
4.19. Can I change the date/location of my interview/departure?
No, it is not possible for an applicant or accepted participant to change the date and/or location of his/her interview and/or departure. All new participants will arrive in Japan on a designated arrival date.
4.20. Can I reschedule my interview?
Please contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan through which you applied. However, as a rule, interviews will only be held during the scheduled interview period. Due to the large number of interviews conducted, individual schedules cannot be accommodated.
4.21. If accepted, can I defer participation for one year?
No, you may not. Successful candidates must begin their term on the programme on the designated date.
4.22. Is it possible to participate in the JET Programme for less than a year?
No, JET Programme participants must agree to the terms and conditions of their contracting organisation, which stipulate a one-year period of appointment. If you cannot fulfil this requirement, you are not able to apply for the programme.
4.23 I have been granted an interview but will be away. What should I do?
You must attend your interview in your home country. There is a limit to the number of JET Programme participants from each country, and each country has its own unique method for selecting successful candidates. If you do not attend the interview, you will be disqualified.
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Copyright 2015 by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR)