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Updates and articles on JET and COVID-19

JETs have been given special dispensation to return home early. Also an article that explains Japan's approach to COVID-19.

In early April, a joint statement was released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (the Three Ministries), to the local governments in Japan who employ JETs, and outlines recommendations in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. It urged them to allow flexible and compassionate arrangements for the JETs in their area, and if the JET participant wishes, to allow a no-penalty break of their contract to return home, including the funding of their flight home as if they had completed their contract fully.

The method employed by government - "urging" and "requesting" rather than a more stronger directive - may seem strange to outside observers, but it is something that lies in the Japanese wartime history and limits imposed by legislation, as much as it is due to culture. For example, while legislation with regards to outbreaks had been created due to SARS, power to actually enact public health measures lie with the prefectural authority, which reflects the post-war measures that the American administrators put in place to prevent a central authority from having too much power as seen in Japan's buildup before WW2. Of course, economic considerations and the Japanese cultural attitude of stoicism and soldiering through a crisis plays a large part in the low-key approach so far seen in the country.

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