I have been in Japan for over a year now. The JSPS scholarship allowed me to work on my dream project in an exceptional environment. If you are thinking about doing your research in Japan, please consider this scholarship as it’s awesome!
JSPS stands for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. It is an independent funding body aiming at advancing science through its various programs. The program I am part of is called the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan – Standard Program. This particular scholarship is for postdocs, but there are other ones for master and phd candidates (ask me).
It is pretty simple, there are just two rules: 1) you need to obtain a PhD degree before you start your scholarship, and 2) you need to be a citizen of a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan.
Any discipline of science is eligible.
Also, you have to find a host in Japan who will support your application. In principal, the host has to be a full-time employed researcher. The institution which will host you does not have to be a university.
If you don’t have contacts in Japan, I would suggest to go online and find institutions or professors that match your research field, and just email them. Be prepared that for every 20 emails you send, you will get 3 replies. Two of which will be saying sorry no, but one may lead you to coming to Japan. Worth trying in my opinion.
This scholarship may be awarded for between 12 and 24 months. You choose (in consultation with your host) how long your stay in Japan and your project will be.
The scholarship covers your monthly allowance (¥362,000), the tickets to and from Japan, and a settle-in allowance (¥200,000).
Depending on what city you will choose to go to, this amount of money goes from enough (Tokyo) to plentiful (small city or rural Japan). The point is, that one person should be able to support themselves with this amount of money. For family, as the only income – it depends.
Additionally, this scholarship has an additional funding attached for your research project (A Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Tokubetsu Kenkyuin Syoure-hi)). Which may be spent for a pieces of equipment, travel to conferences or other research-related costs.
The recruitment is twice a year: April round and September round. The deadlines are usually within the first few days of these months. Also, your current university may require you to submit application earlier for check, so watch the deadlines.
There are two pathways to apply: through your country, or directly via your Japanese host.
To apply through your country find the responsible organisation here and follow their guidelines and deadlines. You will be also notified about the outcome of this recruitment path by this organisation. Additionally, for this path you may be required to find another researcher who will support your application from a country you are applying.
To apply through your Japanese host, you will have to follow their institution’s rules and deadlines. The list of successful fellows recruited through this path is usually posted here.
If you apply in April, you get to know if you were successful around July/August. Then your host can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility which is one to three months. In my case it was exactly one month. With this certificate, your visa application should be just a formality.
Next, you are able to apply for a visa to Japan. The waiting time for visa will vary depending on your country’s Japanese Embassy procedures. I think I have waited around two weeks in New Zealand.
All the forms are available here.
The selection criteria are listed here.
After you are awarded the scholarship
If you will be notified that your application has been successful, this webpage may be useful.
Overall, it is a great scholarship: the money is good, prestige is high, you have a freedom to research whatever you want. This program has also additional benefits such as orientation program (a 3-day-long workshop to introduce you to Japan), outreach program called Science Dialogue (presenting your research to high school students), and others.
If you have any questions please ask them in the comments below?