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Founded in 1997, the International Affairs Fellowship in Japan (IAF-J), sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd., seeks to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between the rising generations of leaders in the United States and Japan. The program provides a selected group of mid-career U.S. citizens the opportunity to expand their professional horizons by spending a period of research or other professional activity in Japan. Fellows are drawn from academia, business, government, media, NGOs, and think tanks. In cooperation with CFR, the program’s sponsor, Hitachi, Ltd., assists fellows in finding suitable host organizations in Japan.
Interested candidates who meet the program’s eligibility requirements can apply online between June 1 and October 1 on an annual basis. Candidates who are selected as IAF-J finalists will be notified between December and January, with finalist interviews scheduled in Washington, DC, and New York City between January and February. Official selections and announcement of IAF-J awards will be made between February and March.
The IAF-J is only open to U.S. citizens between the ages of twenty-seven and forty-five. The program is intended primarily for those without substantial prior experience in Japan, although the selection committee has made exceptions when it considered that the fellowship would allow an individual to add a significant new dimension to his or her career. Knowledge of the Japanese language is not a requirement.
Fellows are selected on the basis of academic and professional accomplishments and promise, the merits and feasibility of their specific research or action proposals, character and personal qualities conducive to promoting cross-cultural communication and cooperation, and the contribution that the proposed research or professional activity will make to the applicant’s individual career development.
The selection process is highly competitive. CFR’s Fellowship Affairs Office processes the applications, and the IAF-J selection committee reviews all applications to identify the most promising candidates. About one-third of the most qualified applicants are selected as finalists to be interviewed by several IAF-J selection committee members. Based on the overall application and the results of the interviews, the selection committee chooses approximately three to five finalists to be fellows.
The duration of the fellowship is between three and twelve months. The program awards a stipend in yen which covers travel and living expenses in Japan. Fellows are considered independent contractors rather than employees of CFR, and are not eligible for employment benefits, including health insurance.