Japan and the JET Program Overview
Welcome to my blog and the beginning of the story of MY LIFE AND TIMES in Japan. Living and working in Japan has been an experience of a lifetime. Japan is a country rich in history and culture, preserved by people who are extremely rooted in generations of traditions. The number of foreigners legally residing in Japan is less than 2 percent of the total population, which makes me very much a minority in this country. However, being a visitor in this country, be it for travel or work – the hospitality of the Japanese can be seen everywhere you go. Because the Japanese government controls the immigration flow into their country with strict laws and regulations, naturalizing outside of marriage is virtually impossible. As a foreigner traveling or working within the country, it’s almost impossible to live a life of anonymity. However, for someone like me, who is Asian-American and have been told on numerous occasions, “you look Japanese” – stares and double-takes can be avoided, except of course when my good looks get in the way. Just kidding. The point being, foreigners living in Japan are a rarity, especially if you live outside the major metropolitan areas as I do. As of July 27, 2003, I’ve been residing in Tokushima City, Tokushima – population, approximately 270,000. Tokushima prefecture is located on the island of Shikoku.
What brought me to Japan was the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Established in 1987 by the government of Japan, the JET Program was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the people of other nations. It aims to promote internationalization in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education and developing international exchange at the community level. As a participant of the JET program, my job title was Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). After being sponsored into the program by the government of Japan, you are then ultimately employed by the city or sometimes directly by the school. In my case, I worked for the city of Tokushima, reporting directly to the Board of Education. I am presently no longer on the JET Program and am now teaching privately in Tokushima.