JET Program


The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program is probably the most popular choice for English speakers who wish to teach in Japan. Beginning in 1987, the Japanese government started to incorporate foreigners into public junior high and high schools in order to bring something lacking in the education system: correct English pronunciation and exposure to ideas outside of Japan.

Applicants to the position of ALT must:

1. Be interested in Japan, and be willing to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of that interest after arrival.

2. Be both mentally and physically healthy.

3. Have the ability to adapt to living and office conditions in Japan.

4. Obey all Japanese laws.

5. Applicants with a suspended jail term must have finished their period of probation by the time they submit their application form.

6. Be a citizen (not just a permanent resident) of the country where the recruitment and selection procedures take place. (Those who possess dual citizenship with Japan must renounce their Japanese citizenship before the date for submission of the Jet Programme Reply Form). Applicants who have dual citizenship may only apply in ONE country.

7. In principle, be less than forty (40) years of age (as of April 1st, 2009). One of the main purposes of the Programme is to foster exchange between Japanese youth and young professionals from the countries participating in the Programme.

8. Have excellent pronunciation, rhythm, intonation and voice projection skills in the designated language, in addition to other standard language skills. Have good writing skills and grammar usage.

9. Have not participated in the JET Programme since 1999.

10. Not have declined a position on the JET Programme after receiving notification of placement in the last JET Programme year. However, exceptions to this rule may be made in cases where it is determined that the participant had a valid, unavoidable reason for withdrawing.

11. Not have lived in Japan for three or more years in total since 2001.

12. In the case of entry into Japan for participation on the JET Programme, agree to reside in Japan under the status of residence stipulated in Article 2-2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

13. Be interested in the Japanese educational system and particularly in the Japanese way of teaching foreign languages.

14. Be interested in actively working with students.

15. Hold at least a Bachelor’s degree or obtain one by the departure date of Group A participants; or hold a qualification of 3 years or more in a training course in teaching at elementary or secondary schools or be able to obtain such qualifications by the departure date of Group A participants.

16. Be qualified as a language teacher or be strongly motivated to take part in the teaching of foreign languages.

Successful applicants are expected to study or continue studying the Japanese language prior to and after arriving in Japan.


  • Pros
    • More variety in your workday, i.e. traveling to more than one school, teaching different classes
    • In most cases, you’ll get your own car
    • Unlike in private schools, you’ll get the full spectrum of junior high and high schools students.
    • Great insight into the Japanese public education system
    • Tight community of local JETs; there will be regular meetups and parties (a blessing and a curse)
  • Cons
    • Depending on the school and teachers, you may as well be nothing more than a human tape recorder, your opinions on how best to teach students amounting to nothing.
    • Next to nothing to do during the school holidays, but you still usually have to be at your desk

Recommended Reading

Under the Osakan Sun, Hamish Beaton
A Kiwi’s three-year experience in the JET Program

Importing Diversity: Inside Japan’s JET Program, David L. McConnell
A great look at the history of the JET Program and some of the problems the first teachers had in remote areas of Japan. Learn the reason why the contracts are spelled out to every last conceivable detail.


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