The JET Programme is one of the largest exchange programmes in the world. JET has flourished because it receives wide support from a variety of sources, most notably from 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).
The support of CLAIR and the three Ministries to both JET Programme participants and the institutions that host them is essential to the smooth operation of the programme.
The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) manages the JET Programme in conjunction with the three Ministries. CLAIR was established as a joint organisation of prefectural and municipal governments in July 1988, to promote and provide support for an increasing interest in local-level internationalisation in Japan.
CLAIR implements the JET Programme, one of a number of ongoing projects. Through JET, Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) and Sports Exchange Advisors (SEA) are recruited overseas and dispatched to local public bodies across the country in an effort to foster better understanding of foreign cultures while also giving participants the chance to learn more about Japan.
CLAIR’s objective is to ensure that the JET Programme runs as smoothly and successfully as possible for the local authorities (contracting organisations) and individuals involved. In order to achieve this, CLAIR advises host prefectures and designated cities, contracting organisations and participants.
CLAIR publishes the Contracting Organisation Manual (Ninyodantai-yo Manual) and the Questions & Answers Manual (Shitsugi Otoshu) for contracting organisations. In addition, CLAIR holds seminars for contracting organisations, Prefectural Advisors and other officers, providing training and advice about JET Programme matters and how to deal with cross-cultural issues.
In addition to this support for contracting organisations, CLAIR plans and implements numerous conferences for JET participants. Likewise, JET participants are able to take advantage of a wide variety of publications produced and distributed by CLAIR.
CLAIR employs 11 Programme Coordinators (PCs), all former JET participants, nine of whom are in the Department of JET Programme Management. These Programme Coordinators serve as an additional point of contact for JET participants and can answer questions or concerns about matters related to living and working in Japan.
Main duties of CLAIR’s Department of JET Programme Management include:
- Overseeing correspondence with the Ministries involved with recruitment and selection of new JET participants.
- Placement of JET participants in contracting organisations after being notified of successful applicants by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Conducting promotional activities regarding the JET Programme.
- Providing assistance and guidance to contracting organisations.
- Coordinating the reappointment process between JET participants and contracting organisations.
- Preparing and implementing orientations and conferences such as Post-Arrival Orientation, CIR and SEA Mid-Year Seminars, and the After JET Conference.
- Providing support for local ALT Skill Development Conferences.
- Preparing training materials such as Japanese language course study CDs and textbooks and implementing Japanese language training for participants.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is involved with the JET Programme in countless ways, most notably in administrative areas, such as calculating financial resources and determining acceptance guidelines for each participating country.
The MIC contacts the schools, local government offices and other organisations that employ JET Programme participants in order to compile assignment plans within Japan for new JET Programme participants.
After consulting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and CLAIR, MIC then creates acceptance guidelines for each participating country and specifies acceptance numbers.
MIC also allocates local taxes to help cover a portion of Programme expenses such as each participant’s remuneration and travel expenses.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the first line of contact for JET Programme participants. Based on the acceptance guidelines for each country, MOFA recruits and selects participants through overseas Embassies and Consulates.
Through these overseas Embassies and Consulates, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will hold information sessions for interested applicants, review applications, hold interviews and notify successful candidates.
These Embassies and Consulates will also provide essential information for new JET Programme participants about how to embark upon the life-changing journey to Japan. Pre-departure orientations and Q&A sessions help to ease anxieties and to ensure that new participants can begin the Programme fully prepared.
MOFA’s involvement does not stop there. When JET Programme participants return to their home countries MOFA will often sponsor a “welcome back” reception and work closely with the local JETAA (JET Alumni Association) to see that the friendships and ties made in Japan remain strong and true.
MOFA works together with the other ministries and CLAIR on the JET Programme in efforts to raise social and cultural awareness of Japan and things Japanese.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, called MEXT, is the Japanese authoritative body on all matters relating to education. Although the activities and duties of MEXT are all-encompassing within the realm of education, JET Programme participants will see MEXT most with regards to orientations, seminars and teaching guidance.
MEXT takes a proactive approach to helping ALTs by providing useful seminars and workshops at all of the JET Programme conferences. MEXT also provides school education training, and guidance to ALTs.
Another fundamental charge of the MEXT is to evaluate and construct the education curriculum, implement policies and to set education standards and texts. These policies and standards directly affect the classrooms where ALTs teach.
ALTs have the opportunity to participate in a direct opinion exchange with MEXT (as well as the other Ministries and CLAIR) every other year during the ALT Opinion Exchange.