Overview and Eligibility
- What is the Mansfield Fellowship Program?
- How long is the Fellowship and what does it entail?
- Can my family accompany me to Japan?
- Must I be a federal government employee to apply for the Fellowship?
- Are members of the uniformed services eligible?
- I am a member of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Who should I contact at my agency before applying for the Mansfield Fellowship?
- Does my agency have to endorse my participation in the Fellowship Program?
- Can I continue working in my U.S. government agency during the Fellowship?
- If I participate in the Fellowship, will I be separating from Federal service?
- If I am a detailee, will my agency have to obligate funds other than my salary and benefits?
- Does the Fellowship Program provide allowances of any type?
- Are there any post-Fellowship responsibilities?
- How can I learn more about the Mansfield Fellowship Program?
- I live outside the Washington, D.C., area and cannot attend an in-person information session. Is it possible to arrange a virtual information session?
- Are there any age requirements?
- Is it mandatory to have two consecutive years of federal service employment immediately prior to the application deadline?
- I will not have two consecutive years of federal service employment immediately prior to the fellowship. However, I have more than five years of cumulative federal service. Can I apply?
- I am in the military reserves. Am I eligible to apply?
- I am a contractor with the federal government. Am I eligible to apply?
- I am retired from federal service. Can I apply?
- Is the application deadline flexible?
- What is a non-detailee?
- What will I be doing in Japan?
- Where will I be placed and who makes the decision?
- Does the Mansfield Foundation provide housing arrangements in Japan?
- My spouse would like to work in Japan. What type of visa does the Mansfield Foundation provide?
- Is there a security clearance requirement to participate in the Fellowship?
- Are Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) eligible for the Mansfield Fellowship?
Application and Selection
- How does the selection process work?
- What are the selection criteria?
- How many Fellows are selected each year?
- Is there a typical profile of the successful candidate?
- Is proficiency in the Japanese language a requirement for selection?
- How do I obtain an application?
- Is it possible to apply directly for the Mansfield Fellowship without involving my agency?
- Can you share completed applications from past years?
- Is there a grade-level or GS requirement to apply?
- Can applicants apply as a couple if both partners meet the eligibility requirements?
- My agency or office does not work on Japan-related issues. Should I still apply?
- Who should sign my Agency Authorization Form?
Overview and Eligibility
The Mansfield Fellowship Program – named after Mike Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senator and U.S. Congressman – is a first-of-its-kind program for both the United States and Japan. The Fellowships enable U.S. federal government employees to learn Japanese and to gain a substantial knowledge about the government of Japan by working long-term in placements in Japanese government offices.
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How long is the Fellowship and what does it entail?
The Fellowship program involves one year of full-time study and work. Prior to their departure to Japan, Fellows work closely with the Mansfield Foundation staff and representatives of the government of Japan to arrange an appropriate placement in a Japanese government office. Beginning in July, Fellows participate in two months of intensive language training in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in order to enhance their language proficiency and confidence in their language skills. Fellows spend the next ten months in Tokyo, working in parliamentary offices, ministries or other agencies of the Japanese government, or in non-governmental Japanese institutions as appropriate. Following their return home in late June the following year, Fellows are expected to return to federal service and apply and share the knowledge and expertise they have gained in the program.
Yes. Fellows may bring members of their immediate families with them to Japan. However, the program does not provide Japanese language training for family members and families do not accompany Fellows to the Ishikawa homestay. In Tokyo, the Mansfield Foundation will supplement the general program allowance with a dependent adjustment and an educational allowance for school-aged children (K-12).
Yes. The Mansfield Fellowships are awarded only to United States citizens who are employees of the U.S. federal government, whose positions are classified according to the federal civil service pay schedules. There is no classification requirement within the U.S. civil service. However, Fellows must have completed at least two consecutive years of service immediately preceding the commencement of the Fellowship year. It is expected that Fellows will return to service in the U.S. government for at least two years after completing the Fellowship program.
Yes. Members of the uniformed services must meet the same program requirements as civilian employees of the federal government. They also are expected to return to military service for at least two years after the Fellowship.
All USAF applicants must work with Mona “Dee” Taylor, Dean of Academics and Outreach for Air Force Fellows, (email@example.com) to secure agency authorization before applying.
Yes. Applicants must receive written authorization from their agencies in order to participate in the program.
No. Both the Fellows and their U.S. agencies agree that the Fellow will not perform routine tasks for the agency while participating in the Fellowship program. The Fellowship program is rigorous and intensive, requiring the Fellows to devote themselves full-time to language study and placements. By agreeing to temporarily discontinue work at their U.S. agencies, the Fellows also avoid any possible conflicts of interest when they work in Japanese government offices.
Fellows from executive branch agencies are not required to separate from service while they are in the program. Fellows who do not separate from federal service may have their time in the Fellowship program counted toward retirement in federal service.
Yes. In accordance with the legislation creating the program, Fellows receive allowances to partially offset the high cost of living in Japan.
Once they return to the United States, it is expected that the Fellows will apply their skills, knowledge and expertise in their professional work in agencies of the U.S. government. Alumni Fellows have been promoted or assigned to positions that allow them to continue to work on Japan issues and cooperative programs and provide advice to their agencies on Japanese decision-making systems and processes. In addition, the Fellows participate in outreach activities to inform a broad audience, including congressional staff, government officials, think tank representatives and business leaders, about the Fellowship program and what they have learned. They are invited to the Mansfield Foundation’s Fellowship alumni events and other programs, and they assist the Center in evaluating the program.
Prospective applicants and agency representatives are invited to attend the Mansfield Foundation’s virtual information sessions about the Fellowship program. For more information, please contact MFPinfo@mansfieldfdn.org.
Yes. As of September 2020, all Fellowship information sessions will be held virtually.
No. However, it is mandatory for the Fellows to return to federal service for at least two years upon completion of the program.
No. The two consecutive years immediately preceding the fellowship are mandatory.
No. In order to apply, you must be a full-time federal government employee.
Federal government contractors are only eligible to apply if their time as a contractor is counted toward federal service retirement and they are classified according to the federal civil service pay schedule. This applies to all contractors, including laboratory personnel. Eligible applicants must also secure their home agency’s authorization as a detailee for the full length of the Fellowship, so if a contract or appointment ends before or during the Fellowship period, that applicant would be ineligible.
Fellows from the legislative and judicial branches participate as non-detailees. These Fellows separate from federal service and receive their salary and benefits from the Mansfield Foundation.
During their year in Japan, the Fellows work full-time in placements in Japanese government offices, ministries and agencies. In some placements, Fellows have worked alongside their Japanese counterparts and have had actual project assignments while in others, the Fellows have observed a broad range of activities at the agency. Fellows may be asked to accompany their Japanese colleagues on business trips or to make presentations and reports. All work is conducted in Japanese. In addition to working in their placements, Fellows attend additional language training sessions provided by the government of Japan, and participate in tours and field trips as well as in a program of continuing education sponsored by the Mansfield Foundation.
As part of the application process, Fellows submit a project proposal for the year in Japan, including placement preferences. Prior to the start of the Fellowship, the Mansfield Foundation works closely with each Fellow and with the government of Japan to arrange an appropriate placement that is consistent with the Fellow’s project plan. The government of Japan makes the final decision and the Mansfield Foundation cannot guarantee a particular placement; however, the Fellows in previous groups have been successful in their assigned placements. Some Fellows work in two government offices during the year in Japan; however, in order for the Fellows to have the opportunity to gain substantive exposure to the Japanese government work place, one of the placements is recommended to be a minimum of three months in duration.
Yes. The Mansfield Foundation, working closely with its Tokyo office, assists in the process of making housing arrangements for the Fellows and the members of their immediate families in Japan.
The Government of Japan provides official visas for Fellows and members of their immediate family. The official visa does not serve as a work authorization for spouses. Fellows’ spouses must ask their employers to sponsor their work visas.
Security clearance is not required to participate in the Mansfield Fellowship.
Foreign Service Officers with the Department of State are not eligible for the Mansfield Fellowship Program.
Application and Selection
The Mansfield Foundation and a bi-national committee review individual applications and conduct personal interviews. Please see the application and selection page.
The Mike Mansfield Fellowships are competitive and are awarded on merit with selection based on each candidate’s qualifications relative to the entire pool of applicants. Successful candidates for the Fellowship program will be United States citizens and federal government employees who demonstrate the following:
- a strong career interest in areas of importance to the U.S.-Japan relationship
- the ability to articulate in a project plan clear goals and objectives and placement preferences for the year in Japan
- their agencies’ interest in U.S.-Japan issues and how participation in the Fellowships will contribute to their agencies’ missions
- service in U.S. agencies with jurisdiction over issues of importance to U.S.-Japan relations
- two consecutive years of service in the U.S. government and a commitment to continuing service in the federal government for a minimum of two years after the Fellowships
- a broad range of knowledge about the United States’ interests in Japan and an interest in expanding that knowledge
- evidence of the following personal qualities: self-discipline; a willingness to work long hours under stress where Japanese is the only language used and to take initiative; the capacity to deal with ambiguity; the ability to work successfully as a member of a team; a willingness to meet new people and build professional relationships; moral integrity; and sociability, curiosity, tact, adaptability, flexibility, resourcefulness, independence, and self-reliance.
Up to ten
No. Fellows represent a variety of U.S. government agencies and have a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, both policy-making and technical.
No. Although some Fellows have had knowledge of the Japanese language prior to applying for the program, it is not necessary for an applicant to be proficient in Japanese and no specific preference is given to applicants with prior language training.
Please refer to the application and selection page.
No. Applications received without signed agency authorization are considered incomplete and are disqualified.
The Mansfield Foundation does not distribute completed applications from previous years.
Is there a grade-level or GS requirement to apply?
Applicants must be classified according to the federal civil service pay schedule, but there is no GS- or grade-level requirement. All applicants must meet the other eligibility requirements, including two years of full-time federal service immediately preceding the start of their Fellowship.
Can applicants apply as a couple if both partners meet the eligibility requirements?
Both eligible applicants can apply for the Fellowship, but they will be evaluated and selected/rejected on an individual basis.
Applicants are not required to work for a Japan-focused home agency, and many successful Fellowship alumni have come from domestic-focused agencies. While securing agency authorization may be more challenging at domestic-focused agencies, all Fellows experience one-of-a-kind professional development and growth opportunities through the Fellowship that benefit the U.S. government as a whole.
The agency authorizing official will differ depending on each agency’s internal policies. In general, it should be someone with the authority to approve employees’ detail-assignments and make high-level decisions on salary and personnel coverage.
Pet expenses in Japan are high, particularly for pet fees in leased homes, so it is recommended that Fellows do not bring pets unless they are prepared to incur significant expenses.
No. We do not have a similar program for China or Korea.