Applicant FAQs

Listed below are common inquiries that we receive from potential USJLP candidates. Please email us if we can assist you with any additional information.


Q: Who is eligible to apply to USJLP?
A: Any American or Japanese citizen between the ages of 28 and 42 on the first day of the first conference they are applying for is eligible for USJLP. Kindly understand that citizens of other countries holding residency status in the U.S./Japan (e.g. green card, permanent resident) do not meet the Program's eligibility requirement and successful candidates are required to provide a copy of their passport to the Foundation as part of the Delegate intake process.

Q: Is country of residence a factor?
A: No. Candidates need not live in their home country to apply to USJLP. We regularly accept candidates who are either permanently or temporarily living abroad, outside of their home country.

Q: Does one need to be in the field of US-Japan relations to apply?
A: No. USJLP strives to bring together a diverse set of backgrounds and specialties in each class and provides a unique opportunity to witness and discuss US-Japan relations first-hand. Expertise on Japan or the U.S. is not a requirement.

Q: As a Japanese candidate, do I need to be fluent in English to be accepted?
A: Fluency is not required, however USJLP conferences are officially conducted in English and we would like for all Japanese candidates to feel comfortable conversing and expressing their ideas in English. All parts of the USJLP application must be submitted in English.

Acceptance and Deferrals

Q: I have a conflict with the timing of the next conference. May I still apply and defer my start until the following year?
A: No. Please apply to USJLP only if you do not have any known conflicts with the upcoming conference dates. USJLP does not grant deferrals to first year participants. Newly selected Delegates who become unable to attend their first conference must forfeit their membership and reapply to the Program for the following, or future, year.

Q: I know I can attend the upcoming conference, but I am not sure if I will be available the following summer for the dates of my second conference. May I still apply?
A: We understand that it is difficult to predict two years in advance. However, upon acceptance into USJLP, Delegates are only guaranteed seats at the next two upcoming conferences. For example, should a 2022-2023 Delegate successfully join the 2022 Seattle conference but need to defer participation in the 2023 Japan conference for any reason, the opportunity to fulfill his/her second participation year at a future (i.e. 2025 or later) Japan conference will be subject to review and granted on a space-available basis.

Q: If I am not accepted this year, am I allowed to apply again the following year?
A: Yes. We always have many more qualified candidates apply than we can accommodate each year and there have been many cases where we accept a candidate who applied more than once. There are no restrictions on the number of times that a candidate can apply.

Q: What happens if I am selected and then unexpectedly cannot participate due to a work or personal schedule conflict?
A: We understand that life holds surprises. However, USJLP is unable to grant deferrals to first year participants. Newly selected Delegates who become unable to participate in the upcoming conference due to a work or personal conflict, must forfeit their membership in USJLP and reapply to the Program for the following, or future, year.

Recommendation Letters

Q: Can I have my recommender send their letter of recommendation directly, or do I need to submit their letter together with my application?
A: Submitting all application materials together is preferred, but not required. If you expect any portion of your application to arrive separately from the rest of your materials please send a note to so that we will be on the lookout for it and know to combine it with your other application materials. Please note that your primary recommendation letter (from a leader in your field) must be received by application deadline, otherwise your application will be deemed incomplete and ineligible for consideration in that cycle. 

Q: May I submit more than one letter of recommendation in support of my candidacy?
A: Yes, you may. But, please keep in mind that at least one of your letters must be from a leader in your field in order for your application to be considered complete. The online submission form supports up to three recommendation letters as PDF attachments. To submit more than three letters, please contact the secretariats at

Q: I am not able to obtain a formal signed letter of recommendation. Would you accept an email from my recommender instead?
A: It is strongly preferred that letters of recommendation be presented on signed letterhead (as a PDF). If necessary, we will accept a letter composed as an email sent directly from the recommender's personal email account. Emailed recommendations should be sent to applications@usjlp.orgIf your letter(s) of recommendation will arrive over email, you are only required to fill in the name(s) and full title(s) of your recommender(s) on the application submission form. Emailed recommendations must also adhere to the same deadline rules and be received no later than the application deadline (for the most recent cycle: Monday, December 9, 2019 at 11:59pm in the local time zone) in order to be included as a part of your application.

Q: Is there a grace period to receive the recommendation letter(s)?
A: No. All application components, including recommendation letters, must be received by the deadline (11:59pm in the applicant's local time zone) to be accepted for that cycle. In the event that a signed recommendation letter from a leader in your field (one letter, to satisfy the recommendation requirement) can not be obtained by the deadline, we hope you will remain in touch and consider applying in the next cycle instead. 

Q: My recommendation letter is in Japanese. Is this acceptable?
A: Recommendation letters in Japanese will be accepted so long as a full English translation is also provided upon submission. If submitting a translation, please combine the original letter and English translation in to one PDF file for the purpose of submitting the letter online.

Q: To whom should recommendation letters be addressed?
A: Recommendation letters will be reviewed by the Scott M. Johnson Fellows Selection Committee, and so should open with a salutation to the committee. 
Should your recommender wish to include a full address as well, please address letters to "The Scott M. Johnson Fellows Selection Committee" and use the US-Japan Foundation's office address that corresponds with your nationality (New York address for American candidates; Tokyo address for Japanese candidates).

Headshot Photo

Q: Does my headshot have to be a passport photo?
A: No, it does not need to be a passport photo or one that was taken professionally. Please feel free to submit a self-taken or candid headshot.

Q: How do I embed a digital photo into the application cover sheet?
A: Please download the .doc version of the application cover sheet and insert your photo into the document, arranging it within the designated photo square. Then, after filling out the rest of the cover sheet in Word, please save it as a PDF for online submission.

Application Deadline

Q: When is the application deadline?
A: The deadline for the 2020-2021 conferences was Monday, December 9, 2019. 
As of February 2021, the deadline for the next (2023-2024) application cycle is expected to be announced in early fall, 2022.  

Q: Will my application be accepted even if it arrives after the deadline?
A: To qualify for consideration, electronically submitted applications must have a time stamp showing that submission was made no later than the deadline (i.e. December 9, 2019 for the most recent cycle). Candidates may submit up until 11:59pm in their local time zone (i.e. 11:59pm JST for candidates in Japan; 11:59pm EST/CST/MST/PST for candidates based in different regions of the United States; likewise, 11:59pm in any third country’s time zone for candidates located outside the US/Japan).

Q: I found out about the Program after the deadline. May I still send in my application?
A: Applications submitted past the deadline will not be considered. 
If you found out about the Program after the deadline and remain interested in applying in the future, please sign up for USJLP email announcements to be among the first to be notified about the start of the next application cycle, which typically opens in early fall each year.

Application Submission

Q: How do I access the online application form?
A: During each application cycle, a link to the online application form will be provided here and within the “Application Procedures” information. Please check back in the fall of 2022 for a link to the 2023-2024 online application form. 

Q: What should I have prepared prior to starting the online application submission form?
A: First, please access and review the entire contents of the online application form to familiarize yourself with the instructions and the six additional informational questions that are required of candidates to answer upon submission. (Please note that this form is responsive, and some of the questions are tailored to nationality; please be sure to select your nationality at the outset of the application form to view the questions in-full.)

Second, at minimum, please have finalized PDFs of the following sections prepared and ready to upload to the online form: 1) completed application cover sheet (available to download here), 2) your CV, and, 3) personal statement. If you have collected your letter(s) of recommendation, up to three letters can be attached to the online submission form as PDFs. Recommendation letter(s) can arrive separately (see Recommendation Letter FAQs above); if any are to arrive separately, the name(s) and title(s) of each recommender must still be provided on the form.

Q: In what format should I prepare my application materials for online submission? 
A: The online application form collects each section of the application as a separate PDF file: 1) cover sheet, 2) CV, 3) recommendation(s), and 4) personal statement. When preparing your files, please be sure to include your full name and identify each application section in each file title, as follows:

  • “Last Name, First Name – 2020 Cover Sheet”
  • “Last Name, First Name – 2020 CV”
  • “Last Name, First Name – 2020 Recommendation – Recommender’s Full Name”
  • “Last Name, First Name – 2020 Statement”

Q: Will I receive a confirmation that my application has been received?
Yes, upon submission an auto-response indicating that your application has been successfully logged in our system should reach you at the email address that you provided in the online application form. Secretariats will follow-up within two (2) business days to confirm that your application has either been received in-full, or requires additional attention. Should you fail to receive one/both confirmation emails within this time frame, please send a follow-up inquiry to

Q: What should I do if I am having trouble with the online submission form?
A: If you experience any issues with the online submission form, please contact us at and the secretariats will be happy to provide further assistance.

Selection Process

Q: Who reviews my application?
A: The Scott M. Johnson Fellows' Advisory Council is asked to present recommendations to the Foundation from among the pool of applicants. Due consideration is given to diversity of gender, political, regional, social and educational backgrounds. The final decision on Delegates is made by the Foundation.

Q: How many people are accepted each year?
A: We aim to have an even number of first and second year Delegates for a total of 40 participants at each conference. Therefore, each year there are approximately 10 open spots on both the American and Japanese sides. However, this number is dependent on various circumstances and the exact number of open spots is typically not known until after the application deadline. 

Q: How long before I will know the results of my application?
A: Notification letters for 2020-2021 applicants were sent out in February, 2020.

US-Japan Leadership Program Membership

Q: What is required of USJLP Delegates?
A: Accepted candidates become a USJLP Delegate upon participation in their first USJLP conference. Each Delegate is expected to attend two (2) one-week conferences: one week in Japan, and one week in Seattle. Delegates are required to participate for the full week and attend all scheduled plenary sessions, group activities and meals. Some may be asked to participate on a plenary panel related to their expertise. Most importantly, Delegates are expected to be active participants in group discussions and to be enthusiastic about the friendships and learning opportunities that USJLP presents.

Q: Does commitment to USJLP end after completing two years as a Delegate?
A: No. Membership in the USJLP is a lifetime commitment. After completing both a Japan and Seattle conference, Delegates then become Fellows of the Program. Delegates and Fellows are encouraged to remain active by attending and organizing USJLP events, and to stay connected via a mailing list and private member-only resource site. Members are also expected to inform their secretariats of important news and updates, as well as keep their contact info and profile updated.

Q: What are the roles of USJLP Fellows?
A: Fellows often give back by organizing informal gatherings or special opportunities and are encouraged to return as special guests at the end of each summer's conference for Fellows Weekend; a two-day opportunity to bring family members, reunite with old friends, and meet the new Delegates. Fellows are encouraged to help in discovering new young leaders and to contribute to securing the financial future of the Program.