As part of the cuts being driven by Renho, the government minister in charge of reigning in Japan’s huge public spending, there is a possibility that the JET program may be canceled, ending over 20 years of government-sponsored English-language teaching in Japan.
If the program does survive the cuts, then it will likely be in a drastically reduced form. This will in turn have a significant effect on the position of other English teachers working in Japan.
The case for JET was made recently by the U.S. alumni of JET calling on the Japanese government to continue the program, citing amongst other reasons, that it is essential for maintaining mutual understanding between Japanese and foreigners and to help folks in Japan open a little more to the outside world.
Some alumni have also gone on to have a huge impact at the grassroots level in Japan, including Anthony Bianchi, a city assembly member in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, and Toby Weymiller, who is currently creating an innovative environment cafe in Hokkaido.
With the future of the program still unclear, it is difficult to see what the effect will be on the job market. However, if JET does end, it does not mean that the English teaching positions it helped fill will close for good. Each public school is legally obliged to offer an English language class, though of course, there is no obligation for them to be taught by a native English speaker.
Another factor which will impact the employment situation in Japan shortly is the change in primary school education. Starting from the next school year, English language education will begin for students aged 7 and up.
Currently there are several Japanese education institutes jostling for position in how this will be handled, each suggesting their own method of teaching, with their own set of text books and teachers – some foreign and some not.
Other small changes are to be expected as well, but as of now, are still to be defined. GaijinPot will keep you updated as soon as we hear more.
Photo credit: Nisiguti / Wikimedia