Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers

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Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (青年海外協力隊, seinen kaigai kyōryokutai)[1] is a system of dispatching Japanese volunteers overseas operated by JICA. The program is similar to the U.S. Peace Corps,[2] and includes volunteers in wide range of fields such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, education, health, and more than 120 technical fields. More than 30,000 volunteers have ever been dispatched to more than 80 countries in Asia, Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Oceania. The recruitment is held on April to May, and October to November every year. Japanese citizens aged from 20 to 39 are eligible for the application. It is commonly known by the acronym "JOCV".


The plan was started in 1957 after Japan joined Colombo Plan in 1954. After the Peace Corps was established by United States in 1961, the JOCV was established in 1965. The first volunteers dispatched to Laos in Southeast Asia.[3]

After while, some related project was started. The Senior Volunteers (シニア海外ボランティア, senior kaigai volunteer) who are consisted elder citizens was established in 1990, the Youth Volunteers for Nikkei Communities (日系社会青年ボランティア, nikkei syakai seinen volunteer) and the Senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities (日系社会シニア・ボランティア, nikkei syakai senior volunteer) who target Japanese emigrants in Latin America was established in 1996. As of 2000, the total number of JOCV was over 20,000. As of July 2013, the total number of JOCV was 38,300 and the number of countries was 88.[3][4]


The JOCV work with a local organization such as a government office, a town office, a school. The JOCV's term is 2 years. But they can extend 1 year if they need.


As of July 2013, the JOCV were working in 71 countries and they used to work in 88 countries. The majority of JOCV work in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, though many work in the Middle East and some parts of Eastern Europe as well. [5][4]

Major countries in each region were worked by JOCV and the total number of JOCV.[4]
Asia Middle East Africa Latin America Oceania Europe
Countries Numbers Countries Numbers Countries Numbers Countries Numbers Countries Numbers Countries Numbers
1st  Philippines 1,526  Morocco 927  Malawi 1,599  Honduras 1,140  Papua New Guinea 592  Bulgaria 250
2nd  Malaysia 1,275  Syria 565  Kenya 1,510  Paraguay 1,069  Fiji 493  Hungary 135
3rd  Bangladesh 1,168  Jordan 499  Tanzania 1,453  Bolivia 850  Samoa 473  Romania 116
4th    Nepal 1,093  Tunisia 349  Zambia 1,290  Guatemala 592  Tonga 393  Poland 103
5th  Sri Lanka 868  Egypt 220  Ghana 1,183  Dominican Republic 563  Solomon Islands 344  Turkey 2
Total 19 countries 11,156 6 countries 2,628 26 countries 12,404 22 countries 8,244 10 countries 3,262 5 countries 606

Technical Fields[edit]

There are more than 120 technical fields in 8 sectors. As of July 2013, the Education, Culture & Sports sector constitute about half of JOCVs who are working. And also, the sector constitute 39% of a cumulative total of JOCVs. The Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries sector and the Manufacturing & Mechanical Training sector constituted a large share of JOCVs, but now they constitute less than 10%.[4]

Major technical fields in each sector were worked by JOCV and the total number of JOCV.[4][6]
Fields Numbers Fields Numbers Fields Numbers Fields Numbers
Public Administration Public Works & Public Utilities Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Manufacturing & Mechanical Training
1st Community development 2,595 Telecommunication 558 Vegetable farming 1,379 Auto maintenance 1,316
2nd Computer technology 1,380 Construction 555 Rice growing 681 Electronics 758
3rd Statistics 74 Civil engineering 519 Animal husbandry 652 Machine tool 234
4th Administrative service 36 Surveying 384 Animal health 404 Pottery 222
Total 4,106 2,652 5,481 3,843
Business Management & Tourism Education, Culture & Sports Health & Medicine Social Welfare
1st Marketing research 162 Science & Mathematics education 2,584 Nursing 1,587 Special education 575
2nd Tourism 135 Japanese language education 1,807 Infection & HIV/AIDS control 576 Social work 164
3rd Quality control 34 Primary education 1,288 Midwifery 506 Industrial health & safety 117
4th Business management 4 Youth activity 1,063 Public health nursing 452 Welfare equipment 22
Total 337 14,855 5,173 880


Japanese citizens aged from 20 to 39 are eligible for the application. The number of applicants peaked at 11,832 each year in 1994. However, as of April 2011, the number of applicants reached a nadir at only 1,351 each half year because Tōhoku earthquake and Arab Spring effected and the government cut benefits last year.[7]

First screening

The screening run the following areas on paper exam.[8]

  • Technological skills
  • Language skills
  • Health
Second screening

The screening run in Tokyo and some local cities.[8]

  • Interview - It include a practical exam if it is required.
  • Health - If it is required.

Even if one passes the required technical examination, he or she can sometimes be rejected, because his or her technical backgrounds might be judged not to match for any requests from the countries of any choices. Therefore, there are some cases of being hired after some repeated examinations. There are also some other cases of hiring applicants of low technical capabilities, or rejecting those of high technical capabilities.

In terms of health check, the required medical standard is strict because serious health problems can occur in developing countries to even one who can live a healthy life in Japan. The required medical standard depends on what country they are dispatched to, because the medical levels vary from country to country.

The second screening result has 3 status 'passed', 'rejected', and 'registered'. As previously explained, some of applicants with high technical capability and without matching for requests can be 'registered'. They can be promoted to be 'passed' when some successful applicants turn the requests down to leave a hole, or some countries make more requests out of the recruitment period.


If applicants passes the second screening, they will start to spend 65 days training as JOCV members in either of 2 training centers: one in Komagane City, Nagano Prefecture and another in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. Which training center they are assigned to depends on what country they are going to be dispatched to. If they join JOCV after leaving their own offices, the period of unemployment benefit payments can be expanded of the day when they start training.

Basic Trainings

  • Radio Calisthenics and Hoisting of the National Flags in the Early Morning
  • Before Lunch: Learning each languages of the countries where they are going to be dispatched to
  • Afternoon: Lecture of country studies, cross-cultural understandings, health managements, and emergency procedures

(vaccination times - once a week)

Food costs and lodging expenses are free while training. As charges of courses, 50,000 yen for one month is also supplied. The trainers are allowed to go out of the training centers after evening of Mon-Sat and on Sunday, but staying out overnight is allowed only on Sat-Sun. The volunteers are divided into 4 groups by the timing of dispatch. 1st group members are dispatched on June, 2nd group on September, 3rd group on December, and 4th group on March.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/oda/white/2007/ODA2007/html/column/cl01001.htm JOCV activities
  2. ^ Maguire, Ken. "Japanese Plant Seeds of Baseball Throughout Africa". New York Times. New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b "JICAボランティアの歩み". JICAボランティア事業について (in Japanese). JICA. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  4. ^ a b c d e 青年海外協力隊派遣実績. JICAボランティア事業について (in Japanese). JICA. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  5. ^ "Japan International Cooperation Agency". https://www.jica.go.jp/english/countries/europe/index.html.  External link in |website= (help);
  6. ^ "JOCV activities in Timor-Leste" (PDF). Embassy of Japan in Timor-Leste. February 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  7. ^ 国際貢献、人材足りない 被災地に殺到 青年海外協力隊の応募激減 (in Japanese). Sankei Shimbun. 2011-10-10. Archived from the original on 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  8. ^ a b 応募から選考までのプロセス. JOCV (in Japanese). JICA. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 

External links[edit]