Winter 2011 General Affairs Report, Discussion Summary

Below, please see a summary of AJET’s meeting with The Council for Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), the Ministry of Education (MEXT), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the Ministry of Internal Communication (MIC). AJET’s questions are in italics, followed by summaries of the responses.

Winter General Activities Report – Written by Cailin Arena, Robert Maxwell, Theodore Genba Bigby, and Bryan Darr.

Presented by Donny Anderson and Cailin Arena

To read the report, click here.

1. AJET: AJET works very closely with CLAIR each year in order to assist JETs at their orientations in Tokyo. This work includes the joint-planning of workshops and opportunities to discover services offered by our affiliates. AJET incurs all the costs related to workshop print materials and travel to and from the orientation.

Currently, CLAIR does not send direct invitations to Tokyo Orientation for AJET council members. This results in a number of difficulties related to AJET members receiving time off to travel to Tokyo and assist with the event, in addition to great cost incurred because of AJETs participation in the event; specifically travel and workshop costs.

AJET does not see a distinction between the volunteer work that Tokyo Orientation Assistants do for CLAIR on behalf of JETs, and the work that AJET does on behalf of JETs, since CLAIR and AJET work in such close cooperation to ensure a proper presentation of this event, and since the planning of workshops is such a large undertaking, resulting in a day’s worth of information sessions for new JETs.

Furthermore, AJET does not see a distinction between the cooperative nature of our activities at T.O. and that of our activities at Opinion Exchange meetings (which qualify council members for formal invitation letters).

Our question is: Beginning in 2012, can CLAIR formally recognise AJET as a valued contributor of Tokyo Orientation, and provide invitation letters for AJET council members, in the same way as they are provided for Opinion Exchange meetings?

CLAIR responded by acknowedging that AJET as an organization does a lot to assist with providing support to new JET Programme participants at Tokyo Orientation every year. However they think it’s important to draw a distinction between the activities that AJET does that are purely on a voluntary basis, such as the Information Fair and the AJET Room, and the activities that fall within the scope of a TOA. Therefore, activities such as the Information Fair and the AJET Room are outside of the scope of the official orientation programme and as such they’ve been unable to provide official leave letters to individual AJET National Council members and would continue to be unable to do so. As for support that they do provide, they do send a letter to AJET as an organisation asking for assistance at Tokyo Orientation and then AJET can use that letter when they have discussions with individual contracting organisations about whether or not they would be able to have their JET attend Tokyo Orientation as an AJET member. CLAIR stressed that they do try to do a lot to alleviate this great burden and for AJET to understand that it is a burden. Some examples of the things CLAIR does include giving top priority to AJET staff who apply to be TOAs, and pay in full all their lodging expenses and their travel expenses. In addition to that, they also try to give AJET National Council members who are TOAs as light of a schedule as possible. Additionally, they asked for our understanding regarding those points.

2. AJET: We understand that CLAIR isn’t able to formally invite AJET to Tokyo Orientation to perform our current duties. What needs to change about AJET’s activities so that there is no longer a distinction which prohibits council members from receiving those invitations?

CLAIR reiterated that they send letters to AJET as an organisation that AJET can then attach to its official request letters to individual contracting organisations and upon receipt of that letter from AJET, but that it was up to the discretion of the individual contracting organisations whether or not they would like to send their employee to engage in those voluntary activities. In terms of the content of what AJET does purely as AJET at Tokyo Orientation, it wasn’t an issue of what AJET does so much but by it’s very nature of it being an independent organization, that makes it difficult to change anything about those activities that would put CLAIR in a position to send official leave letters.

3. AJET: We believe that the services and benefits we provide are an invaluable resource for JETs. These services make the JET Programme more viable and give JET participants the opportunity to gain more experience and credentials for their professional careers and development.

As such, it is imperative that all JETs are aware of the updates and new services provided each month. We are aware that JET Alumni have requested returning JETs contact emails via CLAIRs exit survey/questionnaire through the use of an “opt-out” box (if JETs don’t want their emails shared with JETAAi). AJET is requesting that CLAIR ask JETs to also “opt-out” of giving their emails to AJET, via a “check box”, if they don’t want their emails to be given to AJET when they are incoming JETs handing in their information.

CLAIR responded that they would look into providing AJET with JETs information via the use of an “opt-out” system in a way that was acceptable to both AJET and CLAIR.

4. AJET: AJET operates with no budget sponsored by a government entity. As such it is extremely difficult to cover the cost of these internal communication reports. Can the ministries and AJET contribute jointly to the cost of these internal communication reports?

CLAIR responded that although they would be unable to provide the cost for professional printing, if the data was sent for the reports in advance, they would be able to print out the necessary number of copies in house, and distribute them at meetings.
5. AJET: AJET has made great advances this year in overall promotional efforts on behalf of the Programme’s current and former participants. Is there anything MOFA can do to help assist AJET with the immense tasks of information gathering, reporting, and spotlighting the value of the Programme? Specifically, how can MOFA help communicate the value of the JET Programme in cooperation with AJET’s efforts listed in this report?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by fully recognising the important role AJET plays in the promotion of the JET Programme, in combination with overseas embassies and consulates…along with the cooperation of local JETAA chapters work together on the promotion of the JET Programme through various means, such as Internet and newspaper advertisements, information stations at universities and participation at career fairs. They asked for a little more information about what kind of support we were envisioning

6. AJET: We would like to recognise that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our organisation have a shared goal, which is the mutual promotion of the JET Programme. To this end, we would like to begin freely sharing information about JETs’ achievements, JET related events, and appearances of JET’s in the news media.

MOFA responded by stating that they would like to cooperate, and consider what was possible for them to do.

7. AJET: Regarding our limitations regarding our publications. Can MEXT and the other ministries here today collaborate to find a way to fund and provide Planet Eigo as a resource for team-teaching for JETs, given at no cost to all JETs at Tokyo Orientation?

MEXT expressed their respect to AJET for independently putting together a team-teaching resource, such as Planet Eigo. However, they assumed that distributing Planet Eigo free of charge to all new JETs would require considerable expenses and they felt that AJET should continue to inform new JETs of Planet Eigo’s usefulness and encourage them to utilise it.

CLAIR’s response was that considering budgetary constraints, they felt at this time it would be quite difficult to purchase from AJET and to distribute to all new JETs copies of Planet Eigo.

8. AJET: Regarding the limitations section of the GA Report. Our question is: Can the ministries offer any solutions for the problems regarding AJET’s legal limitations as described in section 7, number 2?

CLAIR responded by stating that based on the conditions that listed in Section 7.2, the way that AJET is composed at this point, it would be difficult, or more accurate to say, impossible for AJET to qualify for the statuses described. However, should CLAIR find some kind of system or means by which AJET would be able to, they’d be sure to share this information with us.

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