As part of Japan’s efforts to grapple with its massive public debt, the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program may be cut. Soon after coming into power, the new government launched a high profile effort to expose and cut wasteful spending. In May 2010, the JET Program and CLAIR came up for review, and during the course of an hourlong hearing, the 11-member panel criticized JET, ruling unanimously that a comprehensive examination should be undertaken to see if it should be pared back or eliminated altogether. The number of JET participants has already been cut back by almost 30 percent from the peak in 2002, but this is the most direct threat that the program has faced in its 23-year history.
We are asking JET Program participants past and present, as well as other friends of the program to speak out and petition the Japanese government to reconsider the cuts. Please sign this petition in support of the grassroots cultural exchange the JET Program has fostered and write directly to the Japanese government explaining the positive impact the Program has made in your life and that of your adopted Japanese community.
Be sure to add your JET placement (ALT/CIR/SEA and City/Prefecture, or "Friend of JET" in the petition letter below). This is not just any ordinary petition. We have been told by contacts in the Japanese government that feedback from JETs and JET alumni will be taken seriously when considering these matters.
For more background on this issue, please refer to "JET Program on the Chopping Block" by Jim Gannon on jetwit.com.
The cultural and economic impact of JET continues even after JET participants finish their contracts. There's an army of JET alumni translators/interpreters. There are JET alums who have written books, made films, written for Japanese and Japan-related publications. There are JET alums working for Japanese companies, in Consulates, in Japanese cultural organizations. JET alumni have started new businesses that increase Japan's business with the rest of the world. There are JET alumni tour guides and JET alumni in politics and influential government positions, just to give a brief cross section of the impact JET alumni have made since the inception of the program.
Without the JET Program, countless opportunities for new friendships, cultural exchanges, and business opportunities would be lost, so once again we ask you to reconsider before moving ahead with further cuts to the program.