Prefectural Advisors

What’s a PA? 

Prefectural Advisors (PAs) are JET participants and Japanese staff that provide support to both JET participants and Contracting Organizations.  Each prefecture has at least one JET participant PA and one Japanese PA.  Kumamoto Prefecture has two JET participant PAs and two Japanese PAs.

What do we do? 

PAs relay information from CLAIR and the Prefectural Office to JET participants; supply information and answer questions on the JET terms and conditions, JET procedural matters, Japanese and home country taxes, health insurance, re-entry permits, visas, Japanese culture, driving in Japan, daily life in Japan, and a variety of other issues: plan and implement orientations, training seminars, and other events as well as occasionally mediating a discourse between JET participants and Contracting Organizations.

PAs are also available for consultation on personal or work-related issues. PAs can also help provide referrals to other resources as necessary.

If you need to contact us for any reason, please submit a response using this contact form.

So who are we?

Your PA team is:
Tourism and International Policies Division – Amy Shiroma (CIR) and Aki Takehara (Japanese PA)
Compulsory Education Division – Hueseng Xiong (ALT) and Keiko Kira (Japanese PA)

Here’s a little message from each of us.

Amy Shiroma 

CIR Prefectural Advisor
Tourism and International Policies Division

Hello! My name is Amy Shiroma and welcome to Kumamoto Prefecture! I was born and raised in the lovely, sunny State of California. I went to the University of Hawaii and I graduated with a BA in Asian Studies. During my time as an undergrad, I participated in two study abroad programs: an independent month-long study abroad at Tokyo’s Sophia University (上智大学) and a 4-month long study abroad as an exchange student at Sophia University (again!) I took so many classes related to Japanese literature, music, society, language, and culture I was one class short of a double major! I didn’t exactly want to spend a semester taking one class though so I settled for a minor in Japanese. After I received my BA I spent a few more years in school to get a master’s in Japanese Linguistics. And now I’m here in Kumamoto! 

It’s been four years since I’ve joined JET and embarked on this amazing journey. Before becoming PA, I worked as an ALT for three years at eleven (that’s right!) elementary schools in Kamiamakusa. If you haven’t visited Kamiamakusa, I suggest going there at least once! There are dolphins, tons of delicious seafood, history, and a cat island! What’s not to love?

For the time being, please bear with me as I will undoubtedly make many mistakes as I adjust to my new role. I believe there’s truth in the Japanese phrase 間違いは成功の元 – Mistakes are the foundation of success, so please let me know if there’s anything I can do to be a better PA for you! In the meantime, I hope I can use my position as PA to help you enjoy and make the most out of your JET experience. I’m looking forward to meeting and working together with you! If you ever need someone to listen or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. 

To de-mystify the CIR PA position a bit, here are some of the things I do:

  • Listen. If you need to vent, are feeling homesick, talk over a difficult issue, or just need someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
  • Facilitate communication between ALTs and contracting organisations when issues arise due to miscommunication or misunderstandings
  • Plan, organise, and facilitate Kumamoto Orientation
  • Compile the Kumamoto JET Programme Photo Directory
  • Visit schools with the Japanese PA to watch the classes of 1st year JETs
  • Conduct area visits with all 1st year JETs, their tantoshas, and some JTEs in a given area of the prefecture. There are usually about 6 or 7 areas that we visit in February.
  • Outreach visits to each area of the prefecture to have dinner with all the wonderful ALTs and CIRs
  • Disseminate information on taxes, visas, reappointment, driving, festivals, etc.
  • Edit The YOKA, a quarterly JET newsletter published by the International Affairs Division
  • Help revise a recommended JET Terms and Conditions for contracting organisations in Kumamoto
  • Meet, greet, and accompany incoming JETs from Tokyo to Kumamoto
  • Attend PA conferences
  • Prepare a Leaver’s Packet for non-reappointing JETs
  • Help the ALT PA to plan and facilitate the Skills Development Conference
  • Monthly eikaiwa lessons with the ALT PA for kencho employees
  • Maintain this website

In addition to being PA, I’m also a CIR, which means I do a few other things. My CIR duties usually take up about 30-40% of my time, and include:

  • Translations for the prefectural government. They could be anything, such as thank you letters to/from foreign officials, pamphlets about Kumamoto’s delicious agricultural products, presentations about cruise ships at Yatsushiro Port, or requests from companies abroad wanting to use Kumamon on their products.
  • Interpretations. The majority of interpretations are 30-minute courtesy visits to the governor, vice-governor, or other officials from visitors to the prefecture. Once in awhile I’ll also be asked to accompany visitors as they travel around Kumamoto.
  • English interviews. I interview applicants for Kumamoto’s Technical Trainee Program and other prefectural programs.
  • Elementary and junior high school visits. Play with students, do games and activities that teach the students about Canada, and do anything else that the school asks.
  • English camps. Occasionally participate in English camps throughout the prefecture.
  • CIR conferences.

Also important, here are some things PAs DON’T do:

  • Act as an advocate for JETs in disputes with their contracting organisations or JTEs
  • Evaluate JETs on their work performance
  • Intervene in personal matters between JETs, particularly on financial issues
  • Tell JETs, their contracting organisation, or their school what they have to do

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Hueseng Xiong

ALT Prefectural Advisor
Compulsory Education Division
Prefectural BOE

Hey, everyone. My name is Hueseng Xiong. It is an understatement to say that Chase was a great PA. I’m so thankful for everything he has done for me and all of the notes he left behind on how to help all of you. I feel like there are still so many things that I don’t know about in regards to this position, but I hope that you can feel comfortable with contacting me about your issues, whether it’s about ALT-JTE/tantosha relationships and about lesson planning or just about life in Japan in general. Now, please bear with me as I share a little about myself!

Before coming to Japan in August 2019, I lived in Arkansas in the US. I involved myself in many extracurricular activities related to multicultural diversity and dancing and graduated with a BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Chinese. Besides the basic greetings in Japanese, I knew almost no Japanese when I got to Japan. However, I participated in a program between the US and Japan called the Tomodachi Kakehashi Inouye Scholars program in 2018. I felt inspired from my learning of mutual cultural understanding from the program and wanted to really learn more about Japan from the inside so I decided to apply for the JET Programme.

In actuality, I just wanted to take a break from studying and thought living in Japan would allow me to relax as well as gain some experience in a global setting. I had expected to return to America already, but here I still am! I hope that I can use this position to help you to be able to enjoy your stay in Japan. I sincerely look forward to meeting all of you and working with all of you! In the meantime, you can always reach me through this email, and then we can move forward from there on how to communicate with each other.

As an ALT PA, my duties involve:

  • Information giving
  • Personal support for Kumamoto Prefecture ALTs
  • Coordinating “Senpai Shadowing” for 1st year SHS ALTs.
  • 1st year SHS ALTs surveys and interviews.
  • English class observation visits with the Kumamoto Prefectural BOE.
  • Checking of English scripts for various exams.
  • Random English checks for the Prefectural BOE.
  • Recording various listening tests throughout the year.
  • Attending and assisting with English camps.
  • The planning, coordinating, and organizing of the annual Skills Development Conference.
  • Being available for mediation if any problems between ALTs and base schools arise.
  • Judging of speech, debate, and skit contests throughout Kumamoto Prefecture
  • Monthly eikaiwa lessons at the prefectural office.
  • Assisting the Tourism and International Policies Division with the orientation of new JETs.
  • The meeting, greeting, and accompanying of new JETs from Tokyo to Kumamoto.
  • Outreach visits to each area in the prefecture to have dinner with JETs
  • Attending PA conferences.
  • Compiling the Leaver’s Packet for non-reappointing JETs.
  • Maintaining this website.

There are also some things that I DON’T do as PA:

  • Act as an advocate for JETs in disputes with their contracting organizations or JTEs.
  • Evaluate JETs on their work performance.
  • Intervene in personal matters between JETs, particularly on financial issues.
  • Instruct JETs, their contracting organization, or their school what they have to do.

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Keiko Kira

Japanese Prefectural Advisor
Compulsory Education Division

Prefectural BOE

Hi! My name is Keiko Kira. I’m originally from Oita City, next to Kumamoto Prefecture. I worked as an English teacher for 8 years in Oita and then 10 years in Kumamoto. I worked in Amakusa High School before taking this post, and now I’m totally an “Amakusa Lover”.  I studied in Canada when I was a university student. I’m married and I have a six-year old son who is super genki.

It’s my third year to be engaged as a PA. I would appreciate if I could help you at any point. Speaking as an ex-English teacher, I believe that all the work ALTs do is definitely indispensable, so please do not hesitate to make contributions. I hope your views of life are broadened and enriched through your experience on JET. 

Please enjoy Japan, Kumamoto, and your lives as ALTs and CIRs. I’ll do my very best to support you all!

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Aki Takehara

Japanese Prefectural Advisor
Tourism and International Policies Division

Hello! My name is Aki Takehara, the new Japanese PA since April 2022. I worked as an English teacher for 10 years in some high schools in Kumamoto before this position. When I was in working at those schools, I enjoyed talking with ALTs. I would like you to enjoy communicating with many Japanese students. They are looking forward to seeing you.

I was born in Tamana City in Kumamoto and live there now. But before working as a teacher, I lived in Fukuoka and Tokyo. So, I realized that Kumamoto has many good points that other cities don’t have. For example, people can drink clean water anywhere in Kumamoto. This is amazing! I would like you to find many other good points. I am very happy to welcome you.

If you need any support, please do not hesitate to ask me. I would be glad if I could help you. I hope you will enjoy your life in Kumamoto and your experience on JET will enrich your life. I’ll do my best to support you. See you soon!

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