The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) was established in 1987, the same year that nine U.S. Congressmen, in a very visual display of Japan bashing, sledgehammered a Toshiba radio into smithereens at a Capitol Hill press conference.
The program was intended to help “internationalize” local communities in Japan by bringing in native speakers to teach junior and senior high school students. But its greatest success may actually have been the creation of a huge reservoir of goodwill towards Japan, especially among the 55,000+ worldwide alumni of the program.
Their support this spring, in the aftermath of the devastating March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, may have marked the program’s finest hour. “Japan, in this difficult hour, is reaping the benefits of years of dedication to internationalization in the form of JET,” writes Emily Metzgar, journalism professor at the University of Indiana and herself a JET alumna….
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A disclosure: Chin Music Press itself is, in a way, a product of the JET program. CMP co-founder Bruce Rutledge took part in the Mombusho English Fellows program, a precursor to JET. Other alumni include book designer Josh Powell and marketing assistant Jessica Sattell.