Japan · JET Programme

JET Programme: Applying for 2017

News is that applications forms for the 2017 intake are now available online! The South African applications can be found here. 😀

Every year I update and rewrite a post regarding the applications, statement of purpose essays, and interviews. And this year is no different. I’ll start by covering the basics of the application forms.

Please note: This post is written entirely from my experience as a South African JET. If you are unsure of something regarding the application form then it’s always a good idea to contact your coordinator at your Japanese embassy.

Taikodani inari shrine, Tsuwano, Shimane. One of the five greatest inari shrines in Japan.

Questions You May Have…

Where can I find the application forms and other downloadable content?

All the necessary forms and guidelines for the 2017 intake will be made available on your country’s Japanese embassy/your country’s ‘JET Programme’ website. Release times of the documents do vary, but normally it is from September, with the deadline being around November.

Can I fill the form in online or do I need to print it out?

It depends on your country.

Some countries, like America, require you to submit everything online.

Other countries, like South Africa, require you to print out everything, fill it out in blue ink, and send it (along with supporting documents) via post to the embassy. Though I know that other countries prefer that you fill out the application in black ink, so definitely read your guidelines carefully.

Whichever format you have to do, I suggest making copies of your application form, health form and supporting documents in case something happens to the originals.

Read the rules carefully

The application form comes with its own set of guidelines on how to fill it out correctly. Read this well!

Embassies around the world may have slightly different guidelines or rules, so make sure that you are following your country’s specific one.

At least for the South African application they highlight the fact that you must not staple the application form and supporting documents together and instead use paperclips – they even provide a picture of what type of clip you must use.

Supporting documents

Supporting documents can take time to collect – such as university certificates, proof of graduation, transcripts and reference letters. If you haven’t started collecting these already then I recommend you start now.

Reference letters and university-related documents in particular can take time since you are waiting on others to deliver, and there is only so much pushing and prodding for these documents until you can do no more but to patiently wait. 

Matsumoto castle, Matsumoto City, Nagano

The certificate of graduation

This is a particularly important document as this is what will grant you a working visa in Japan. If you are still studying, but will graduate by July 2017, then you will need to get a ‘proof of graduation’ or a ‘certificate of expected date of graduation’ from your university. This can be a bit of a mission (as I had to do this and my university wasn’t too keen on providing it), so definitely work on getting this first before tackling your other documents.

I suggest double checking with your JET coordinator at the embassy as to exactly what documents they require when it comes to graduation certificates or proof of expected graduation.

Reference letters

Some embassies have specific guidelines as to what they want covered in a reference letter, while others have none.

In South Africa there are just some general rules for the reference letters, which you will see under the ‘application form instruction’ PDF on the embassy’s website.

I suggest providing your referees with some information about the JET Programme and what you expect them to write. Look at what other embassy guidelines have set out and use this to get ideas as to what your referee could write about. By providing them with as much information and guidelines as possible, they should able to write the letters more efficiently.

Living area classification and prefecture preference

I have heard some concerns that by not writing down a preference for either living area or prefecture you could raise your chances of getting chosen for the programme. But that is definitely not the case.

I believe that you are chosen for the programme based on your skills, experiences, passion for teaching and/or Japan, and how you perform in the interview (if you make it to the second round of applications).

The people who decide where you are placed do take your preferences into consideration, especially if you have a medical condition, family living somewhere in Japan, or even a sister-city. So by all means put down where you would like to be and why – it will not be detrimental to the final decision of whether or not to accept you. Just remember that not everyone’s request can be granted, which is why you are given three choices, and not just one, to where you would like to be placed in Japan.  

Japanese proficiency

Be honest when filling out this section of the application form. I have heard of applicants being asked to demonstrate their proficiency during the interviews – as if the actual interview wasn’t stressful enough!

I personally did not have any Japanese proficiency when I applied, putting down ‘none’ on the form. Fortunately my time in Japan helped me improve my understanding of the language greatly and my speaking ability approved somewhat as well.

The Statement of Purpose essay (SOP)

Check out your embassy’s rules and guidelines for the essay. I know some countries specify what they would like to see covered in the essay, while others provide only the basic guidelines.

I think it is a worldwide rule that the essay can only be 2 pages in length, and most likely you are required to use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-spaced.

I recommend having your name and page number in the header of each page, and keep in mind the following pointers when writing it up:

Have you covered the 4 questions: Why JET? Why Japan? Why teaching? Why me?

I found that these questions popped up on a few JET Programme websites when mentioning the SOP and kept them in mind when proofing and editing other aspiring JETs essays.

The Golden Temple – Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Good luck to all aspiring JETs! The application form is just the start of a very long process. But believe me when I say it is worth the effort.



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