Council of Local Authorities for International Relations
The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) is a Japanese governmental agency established in 1988 to support the international activities of local governments to strengthen international collaboration, particularly around local development and revitalization. It also aims to provide support to local governments in promoting tourism and regional products. Its headquarters are in Tokyo and there are domestic branch offices in each prefecture in Japan, as well as a network of overseas offices in major cities around the world.
The JET Programme
In cooperation with local authorities, the Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), CLAIR manages the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. JET Programme participants are assigned to be Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), who provide language instruction at elementary, junior and senior high schools; Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs), who engage in local international exchange activities; or Sports Exchange Advisors (SEAs), promoting international exchange through sport. The JET Programme is one of the largest international exchange programmes in the world, acknowledged as an embodiment of public diplomacy, with more than 50,000 participants since it began in 1987. CLAIR is one of the main sponsors of the JET Alumni Association in the UK (JETAA UK).
International CLAIR Offices
CLAIR's international offices, located in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney, and Beijing, investigate the latest trends in local administration and finance, as well as local development and revitalization policies, on behalf of Japanese ministries and local authorities, promote the JET Programme and a number of other international exchange programmes, and organise Japan-related seminars and sister city relations.
CLAIR offices in New York, London and Sydney are known locally as Japan Local Government Centre.
In May 2010, the JET Programme was examined by the Government Revitalization Unit, the jigyōshiwake budget review panel set up by the DPJ government (2009-2012) to address public concerns over high state spending . Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto has also questioned CLAIR's activities and spending, in particular the practice of amakudari among its senior officials . However, the new LDP-led government of Shinzo Abe will not pursue such shiwake policies around public spending and later, in fact, announced its reversal and the expansion of JET .