First time since COVID-19 hit: Japanese embassy welcomes Filipino returnees of teaching program

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2023 04:13 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2023 04:37 PM

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News
Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Japanese embassy on Saturday welcomed over 20 returnees from their exchange and teaching program, their first in-person homecoming in the past 3 years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme allows Filipinos to go to Japan and let them become assistant English language teachers for private or public schools on a contract basis. 

They are tasked to help classes led by Japanese teachers, information from the Japanese website showed. 

Akihiko Hitomi, Embassy of Japan’s first secretary and one of the coordinators of the event, said participants do not need to be well-versed in Nihonggo as long as they have the passion to teach. 

“It is a human exchange program so we ask Filipino teachers and young generation to come to Japan for [a time] to serve the local community… mainly as assistant language teachers, essentially as English teachers, [for] up to 6 years in Japan,” Akihiko said at the sidelines of the event. 

The official said the compensation for these assistant teachers ranges from 3 to 4 million yen or around P1.6 million annually. 

Based on the Japanese embassy’s website, interested participants will undergo a screening process, which will require them to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher related to English or Education, an experience in teaching in classroom setup, a professional language teaching license or experience, among other things. 

Akihiko said the program does not have a cap on participants but they receive up to 2,000 applications annually. Only around 50 passed this year, he said. 

“Japanese language skill is an additional skill. If they have the skill, that is very good. But if they do not speak Japanese, they can still apply,” he said.


For Karyll Dotimas and Danna Dela Cruz, both finishers of the program, their experience under JET was definitely something they would not trade anything for. 

Dotimas, a sociology graduate, said she learned about the cultural exchange from her friend. 

“Having the opportunity to represent the country and then teaching Japanese students… they have a unique curriculum [that is] very community, grassroots-level… I also have [a] passion for Japanese culture,” she told ABS-CBN News. 

For her part, Dela Cruz said the 3-year experience teaching high school students helped them learn about Japanese culture. 

“We have different languages, they speak Japanese, I speak English and Filipino. I think what is important is we try to communicate kahit na magkaiba ang language… that is the best experience for me,” she said.

The screening process for next year’s JET program will start in September. Their screening process for this year finished last February, Akihiko said.