Program Objectives and Benefits
The Mansfield Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and practical, firsthand knowledge about Japan and its government. Through their placements, Fellows develop networks of contacts in Japan and an understanding of the political, economic and strategic dimensions of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Mansfield Fellowship Program alumni have skills, contacts and expertise that facilitate their agencies’ work on Japan-related programs and policies. They return to federal service with a deep, practical understanding of Japan, including knowledge of:
- the Japanese language;
- Government of Japan policies, including how the government addresses issues in Fellows’ professional fields;
- Japanese decision making, including how their counterpart agencies in Japan are organized and make decisions; and
- Japanese society and culture.
Alumni Fellows have direct responsibility for a wide variety of Japan issues, provide counsel to their agencies on Japan-related matters and help expedite the resolution of issues involving Japan.
Before beginning the year in Japan, selected Fellows participate in one year of pre-departure training in Japanese language and area studies. Language classes are tailored to each individual Fellow and participation in either full-time or part-time training is based on the Fellow’s needs, availability, and approval from their home agency and the Mansfield Foundation. See more details about the pre-departure training here.
Homestay and Language Training
Fellows begin the program in Japan with a seven-week course of intensive Japanese language study in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. This immersion program—which includes a homestay, cultural activities, and professional site visits—improves the Fellows’ Japanese speaking and listening skills and builds their confidence in using Japanese. It also introduces the Fellows to Japanese culture outside Tokyo and helps them adjust to living in Japan. At the conclusion of the homestay, Fellows move to Tokyo to begin their placements.
Following the Ishikawa Prefecture language training, Fellows travel to Tokyo to begin ten months of placements, further language training, and supplemental education programs and study tours. In their placements, Fellows work full-time with their Japanese colleagues on issues relevant to their professional expertise and provide their perspective while learning from their Japanese counterparts. Given that ministries and agencies have overlapping jurisdiction over certain issues, some Fellows may work in more than one government office during the year in Japan. In addition, Fellows have benefited from the perspective gained by working in the offices of Japanese National Diet (parliament) members and private companies and may participate in a two-week administrative training program provided for Japanese mid-career level civil servants. Placement details are negotiated with the government of Japan prior to moving to Tokyo and begin with a detailed placement plan included in the program application. This plan will be tailored to the interests of Fellows and their agencies and will be considered by Embassy of Japan attaches in Washington, D.C., Japan’s National Personnel Authority, and the agencies where Fellows request to be placed. In addition to their placements, Fellows participate in a morning language class provided once a week and funded by the government of Japan.
Continuing Education Program
To broaden their perspectives on Japan, expand their network of contacts and establish a context for their professional work, the Fellows participate in continuing education which includes regular meetings and small group discussions (kenkyukai) with Japanese leaders and Japan experts.
Fellows may attend the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) training course, which the National Personnel Authority provides for mid-level civil servants and makes available for some Fellows.
While in Japan, Fellows also attend GOJ-sponsored weekly language training classes and participate in GOJ tours to locations within and outside of Tokyo.
Post-Fellowship Return to U.S. Agencies
Following the year in Japan, Fellows are required to return to U.S. federal government service for a minimum of two years. It is expected that agencies sending officials to the program will use Fellows’ expertise and network of contacts to benefit the agency in Japan-related work. As alumni, Fellows participate in Foundation-sponsored professional development activities and programs and are expected to participate in educational outreach programs and assist the Foundation in the recruiting, training and orientation of new Fellows.