Mrs. Clinton speaks up on behalf of American Japan exchange teachers (JETs)–prob. 90% of whom don’t even file their U.S. taxes. @StateDept

A state department link to a Hillary Clinton speech at the U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference.

Here is an excerpt on what she had to say about the JETs:

For all the fundamentals that are already in place, however, we cannot rest. We have to keep building and looking for new opportunities. And we do that issue by issue and person by person. And I must say that for us in the State Department, few opportunities deliver the lifelong impressions and friendships as sending our young people to each other’s country to learn languages and cultures. And we are committed to ensuring that even more young people have that opportunity. More than 35,000 people have participated in exchange programs sponsored by our two governments, programs like the Fulbright and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, known as JET. More than 750 officials have taken part in government exchanges, and nearly 4,000 Japanese professionals have taken part in the International Visitor Leadership Program, including four prime ministers, a Nobel laureate, a best-selling author, and many thousands more.

In the speech, which rightly remembers the young JETs who died in the March 11 tsunami, the focus goes from the JETs being teachers of the English language, to being these junior ambassadors for America. Now, the new twist is asking the JETs to recruit for stateside colleges! (Pennsylvania can’t fill Temple Japan, and the State Department is basically doing an end-run around it.)

As you know, I have been in favor of scrapping JET for a “Teach for Japan” program. Alternatively–since it seems to be a big issue–gut the “exchange” portion of the program, and focus on the teaching. People like the term “JET” because it’s tied into their heritage and marketing. But to be honest, what is the difference between an Interac ALT and a JET—except that the Interac ALT may be getting screwed out of pension and health care (Shakai Hoken)? The Japanese dare not do this with a governmental program that has a certain visibility.

I have said about a lot of this already, so I want to focus on this idea that the JETs should use their “exchange” efforts to pitch America’s bloated higher education apparatus.

I have a hard time when the Secretary of State, who is one of the shining lights of the Obama Administration, is out promoting a group of young kids, but wants them to do the bidding of very well-entrenched interests stateside. These colleges don’t care about the JETs. They don’t care what happens to the JETs when the plane lands–back home! They just want the pitches made to young Japanese to come and study in America.

[Now a bit of a 180 here . . .]

The other thing I don’t like is that it’s well known that many young Americans in Japan don’t file a tax return. The message being given to them is that their responsibilities as Americans extend to promoting interests in our country, but not to fulfilling EVEN MINOR duties while outside the country. You obviously can’t put “file your taxes” in a speech, but you see my point. It’s even on the last page of the passport–issued by the State Department.

Wilfull nonfiling, by the way, is a crime.