JET application: Q & A Conversations with those interested in applying (Part 1)


  1. I know japan is relatively expensive and can you shed some light on what a salary like this would afford in japan in terms of lifestyle?

     The JET Program salary is standardized (excluding Tokyo placements) to receive 3,360,000 Yen for their first year, and to have a gradual light increase per year. at the current conversion rate that comes out to ~$28,025.70 for the first year. A critical piece to keep in mind is that if you are coming from the USA (and you will be an ALT), you will be applying for USA and Japan Tax exemption for at least the first 2 years once accepted.  This makes a massive difference as taxes usually take a hefty chunk out of your paycheck.  From there you will have to pay a few forms of insurance that you must enroll in, as well as Japanese social security (you can get back the JSS upon completion of the program!!).  I would estimate what you get per month at about 2,000 USD after any deductions.

     Some areas of Japan are more expensive than others (ex: Tokyo, Yokohama, or any large metropolis for that matter).  While some areas are cheaper (less populated areas, the countryside, or you could just be super thrifty and save on expenses.

     I typically find that you have the choice of saving money, but you will definitely need to plan ahead for what are called “Enkai.”  Where you go out with the Board of education peeps, school personnel, Town Hall peeps, or such for drinks, food, and whatnot.  These can range from free to ~$100+ so be careful if you are on a tight budget.  In most circumstances I think that the JET Program pays decently, especially compared to other similar programs within Japan.

     One area that I would like to stress is Student Loans.  If you have them, you may want to make sure you factor in those payments along with your salary after converting currencies and international transfer fees.  There are also situations where you may need to purchase a car or use commuter rails.  My situation works out so that I have cash to spare for traveling or to purchase a car (which it looks like I will have to…)

  1. The details on housing online is very limited, can you explain what kind of housing is offered through the program? Will the sponsoring organization cover the cost of this or would this come out of the participant’s paycheck? What kind of housing can I afford if I am responsible for this expense? How do I find accommodation if necessary?

     Housing is not specified as everyone gets a completely different place.  You can get anything from a free massive, 2 floor house, to an expensive small studio apartment.  In probably 70-80% of situations, you will be living in government owned housing and will pay a minimal amount of rent (usually not over $400 (USD)).  20% of the time you may have to pay over that, and in maybe 10% or less (basically if you live in Tokyo from what I hear) you may be responsible for full rent and potentially key money.  That is something that you would not really know until you get your placement and can follow up with your predecessor. You will be responsible for paying this cost from your salary.

        The majority of people will be taking over a predecessor`s apartment or such, and will not have to search the local area for a place.  If you do get selected for Tokyo, this year they doubled up on the people in Tokyo in order to prepare for the 2020 Olympic games, you may be expected to find a place after arrival, CLAIR or JET will likely assist under those circumstances.

  1. Is it the participants’ responsibility to procure a Japanese visa before going to japan? Or does the Jet program do the work of applying on our behalf? Who is responsible for paying for the visa processing fees ( if any )?

     When accepted to the program and after confirming that you will go where placed (non-negotiable) the JET Program will take care of applying for and procuring your Japanese Visa.  You are not charged any fees besides applications for your Background check (Do this as soon as possible, potentially even before they say you have to as it takes about 3 to 4 months to process and you have to do it no matter what you are applying for!!!), Tax exemption, and a few other minor fees that I will discuss in another section.  All in all, your visa is one of the easiest parts if accepted.

  1. In terms of the application process: Are you aware of what factors the deciders will use to come to a decision on my application? What sort of elements should I highlight in my statement of purpose? What are some of the factors that the deciders typically do not favor? From what kind of individuals would make the best letters of references? (Professors? Employers?) ect.

     We are never officially told why we were selected, so that is hard to say.  From conversations with everyone that I`ve met at orientation and JETs that have been here for a while, everyone tends to go to the fact that they were excited and passionate about Japan, teaching, language, or something along those lines.  They want to see that you have an interest and or ability to adapt that won`t leave you wanting to go home in 3 months because Japan is different than your home country and you don`t like new things….

     I would highlight why Japan is of serious interest and what you hope to accomplish.  From there just answer the questions (somewhat way too briefly due to the word limit).  If you have a general outline and have questions from there just let me know.

     When it comes to letters of reference, choose wisely… If you are a recent grad or still have close ties with your previous professors that could back you up, that is a good path for one of your letters.  If you are currently working full-time, and feel safe doing so, I would ask someone you report to that knows just how hard you work and is aware of your interest/ passion to do this (this is what I did and it worked out well). I also recommend that if you have work or volunteer experience at a school or such, that you get a recommendation from an upper there.  It will show that you have experience working with children and that you can handle yourself in that diverse environment. Basically try to find someone of authority that they will stop and say…”oh wow,” if at all possible.

  1. The application asks for all documents to be uploaded onto the site but it also asks for unopened letter of reference to be mailed in. How can I provide the letters of reference without opening these letters?

     You don`t actually upload the letters of reference.  Once they are sent in the mail, received, and processed, they will be checked off from your online list. (At least this is what happened last year)

Part 2 will be coming out shortly!

*Photo Credit to the Japan times


About mindofryan

spontaneity - check open minded- check optimistic- check 一期一会 - check I am a College grad, managing the daily work load, a social life, and personal hobbies. I love martial arts and am interested in seeing the world and it's cultures.

Posted on September 29, 2015, in JET Program(me) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. If you’re a CIR, your ARE NOT TAX EXEMPT. It’s some serious bull shit, but it’s the way it is.

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