Welcome to the JET Programme UK Website
The Official Website for UK Applicants

In Japan FAQs

1. How much help are you given when you arrive? Is it easy to make friends?

Support for JETs on arrival is comprehensive. You will have a supervisor who will help you with accommodation, utilities and banking. There will also be a network of JETs in your area who can provide support when needed. JETs generally find it easy to make friends in Japan, with other JETs as well as with local people, but please remember that it is important to be proactive in meeting people and in joining different activities in your area. Many Japanese people are not fluent in English so participants are recommended to learn as much Japanese as possible to help them integrate into the community.

2. I am a student with a large overdraft. How will I fund my time in Japan?

Obviously, all JETs are paid a monthly salary. This is an ample amount, allowing you to live comfortably and enjoy life and travel in Japan.

However, you will not receive your first pay cheque for up to six weeks after you arrive in Japan so we recommend that you bring at least 200,000 yen. Some participants may be required to pay a deposit for accommodation upon arriving. You will also need money to live on and to purchase your daily essentials until your first pay cheque. Please try to secure these funds before departure in order to ensure that you have enough money for your first few weeks in Japan.

3. I've heard the cost of living in Japan is high. Will the JET salary be enough to live on?

Yes, the JET salary is more than adequate to cover living costs in Japan. Average costs at present are very similar to those for living in the UK, with city prices slightly higher than in rural areas. The annual JET salary is 3.36 million yen.

4. Do I have to pay tax in the UK if I work on the JET Programme for only one year?

Please see the Embassy of Japan in the UK website for information or contact your local Inland Revenue Office.

5. How will I arrange accommodation?

Your contracting organisation will arrange accommodation for you in almost all cases. On arrival at your workplace, you will be met by your supervisor who has probably arranged accommodation for you or by an experienced JET Programme participant. Alternatively, your supervisor will help you in looking for accommodation and buying furniture. In the meantime, a home-stay or hotel will be arranged for you as temporary accommodation.

All JET participants live in individual apartments or houses whilst in Japan.

6. Can I drive? How do I get a driving licence?

You should contact your contracting organisation to let them know whether or not you hold a driving licence and intend to drive in Japan. To drive in Japan you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit which is available from the AA, the RAC and certain branches of the Post Office.

This MUST be used in conjunction with a valid UK driving licence and is valid for a year. Once in Japan, should you choose to renew your contract and wish to continue driving, you must apply for a Japanese driving licence. Information will be available upon arrival.

NOTE: To apply for the International Driving permit you must send a photocopy of appropriate passport pages for postal applications. You must do this in advance of the Pre-Departure Orientation when passports will be collected and held until departure.

7. I don't have a driving licence. What if my placement requires me to have a car?

You are asked this question on the application form. Your answer will be taken into consideration to some extent when placing you in Japan. If you request a rural area, it is more likely you will need a driving licence; however this shouldn't discourage applicants who do not drive. The vast majority of JETs do not require a car for travel to work.

8. How do JETs learn Japanese? How long does it take?

Language materials are provided and classes held during the Orientation. Once in Japan, JETs are encouraged to take up Japanese study in a way that is suited to their preferred method of learning. The time required to become proficient depends very much on individual motivation and aptitude, but remember that you will gain a lot more from living in Japan if you make an effort to study the language. The more you practise your Japanese, the more you will learn. Most JETs return with a sufficient command of Japanese for everyday life in Japan.

9. How do you get involved in your local community?

There are many ways to get involved in your local community whilst in Japan. In addition to extra-curricular activities in school, we encourage participants to actively seek out cultural activities in the local area. Popular activities among JETs include Taiko Drumming, Ikebana and martial arts such as Judo and Kendo. Town festivals are a great way to get involved in the local community. Please remember that you must be proactive in seeking out ways to become involved in your community - these events will not always come to you!

10. How many hours will I teach?

Most ALTs teach 3-4 periods a day, with each period lasting around 50 minutes. However, you will typically be expected to be at school from 8am - 4pm and be present at assemblies and staff meetings. In your free periods you can work on lesson planning, updating English materials, English boards and extra-curricular activities. You will have time to study Japanese, get to know other subject teachers in the staff room, attend different classes and help out with school festivals. ALTs are also expected to help with an after-school club, an experience that will bring you closer to your students and the school community as a whole.

11. What age ranges will I be teaching as an ALT?

ALTs usually teach in Senior High or a combination of Junior High and Elementary schools. Some ALTs may also find themselves visiting Kindergarten schools.
Elementary School students are 6 - 12 years old.
Junior High School students are 12 - 15 years old.
Senior High School students are 15 - 18 years old.

12. What will I teach in the lessons?

This very much varies depending on the class you are teaching. During orientation you will be provided with a number of different team-teaching ideas. It is the ALT's role to work with the Japanese Teacher of English and construct an appropriate lesson plan.

13. To what extent would I be responsible for discipline?

The role of an ALT is that of an assistant teacher. The Japanese teacher of English will maintain discipline. You may find yourself helping out by keeping the class focused and quiet. If you find yourself in a situation you feel uncomfortable with, depending on the openness of your teacher, you may wish to address this issue outside of the classroom privately.

14. How will Japanese students react to ALTs from ethnic minority groups?

The JET Programme encourages applications from all ethnic minority groups. Japan does in general have a homogenous population, however, the JET Programme aims to promote cultural exchange and increase understanding of Britain as a multi-cultural country consisting of people from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds. Japanese students will be especially interested in you and this will increase their awareness and understanding of different countries.

15. What holiday am I entitled to?

Annual leave ranges from 10-20 days per year, depending on your school. This is a luxury as many Japanese teachers have less or at least take less holiday. You are entitled to use all your holiday allowance - many participants travel around Japan or abroad or take holidays when friends and family come to visit. In addition to annual leave, Japan has 16 national holidays per year (as of 2016).

Please note that Japanese schools do not close during the school holidays as many students take extra classes and attend club activities. You are expected to attend work during the holidays, but this is the best time to use annual leave.

You must always consult with your supervisor before taking holiday at any time of the year. Always provide your school with your contact details while you are away, especially when travelling abroad.

16. Is it easy to travel in Japan?

Yes, Japan has some of the best public transport in the world and travel is safe and convenient.

17. I hear that JETs can stay for up to 5 years on the Programme. How many participants renew their contracts?

As long as your contracting organisation is happy with your performance over the last year, you have the option of renewing your contract up to four times, allowing you to work on the JET Programme for a maximum of 5 years. About 70% of UK participants renew for a second year, fewer participants stay on for a third year or longer.

18. What if I don't like my location or fancy a change? Can I move in my 2nd or 3rd year?

It is unlikely that you would be given the opportunity to move to a different placement during your time on JET. Relocation is sometimes possible in exceptional circumstances, however these do not include dissatisfaction with your job or surroundings. There is a slight possibility that you may be able to relocate to a different city in your prefecture should you wish to do so at some point during your time on the JET Programme, however this is very uncommon. Although every situation is different, JET participants should assume that their working conditions will remain the same if re-contracting for another year.

19. I'd like to be an ALT first and then become a CIR. Is this possible?

It depends on the policy of the prefecture. If a position becomes available in your area, there may be an interview procedure, however this is not very common. In order to avoid disappointment, you should depart for Japan with the mindset that you will be an ALT for the duration of your contract. You could then explore the possibility of becoming a CIR sometime during your stay in Japan.

20. What if I cannot fulfil my one year contract?

On rare occasions, a JET Programme participant returns to their home country before the end of their contract. This is normally due to bereavement, family issues etc. In these cases, the contracting organisation will provide assistance in returning home.

Obviously no one is going to force you to stay in Japan if you are unhappy. You would probably be unable to perform well in your job or fulfil your responsibilities if you are in a negative frame of mind. However, in cases such as these you would be expected to pay your airfare back to the UK should you choose to break your contract. Please think hard before you decide to leave your job before the end of your contract, as this would either deprive your students of an ALT or force co-workers or other JETs to take on your responsibilities as well as their own.

Please be aware that after accepting a position, if you withdraw from the JET Programme once your placement notification has been received, you may find yourself liable for your airfare to Japan.

21. What is Japan/JET like for LGBT applicants?

Sexual orientation is not taken into consideration during the application or selection process. There have been many gay/lesbian/bisexual JETs on the programme over the years. In Japan the issue of sexual orientation is, as in the UK, a private matter. How an LGBT JET would choose to approach his/her colleagues and community will vary depending on the personality and circumstances of that individual. One positive aspect of coming to Japan is that violence against those of alternative orientations is practically non-existent, therefore fear of personal safety need not be a concern however, please bear in mind that same-sex marriages performed in the UK are not legally recognised in Japan and are not subject to the same regulation regarding visa issue as heterosexual married couples.

22. I am religious and need to observe certain holidays. What allowances will be made for me?

Please consult with your contracting organisations carefully in advance. It is up to them to decide if absences for religious reasons are allowed or not. Schools may refuse your request if a religious holiday is on a working day or if work has been scheduled for that day.