Local News

Sixty-six years ago today, the Emperor of Japan announced that the Japanese were surrendering to the United States. Celebrations broke out all over the U.S. and August 15th become known as VJ Day.

Today, of course, Japan is a staunch ally. And for one group of young Americans, the idea of victory in Japan is not so much a historical event as it is a personal aspiration. That’s because they’re starting new jobs in Japan. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program–or JET–has recruited 800 Americans this year and most of them will be teaching English in Japanese public schools.

These Americans are headed to a Japan that’s looking for a victory of its own. The country’s economy had been struggling for years when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan this past March. The Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking radiation, there have been more earthquakes, scares about food tainted with radiation and widespread public anger and anxiety.

Some of the JET Program’s new recruits are from Kentucky and around the South. WFPL’s Graham Shelby caught up with a few of them at an official reception in Nashville just hours before they left for Japan.

That piece ends with Tyler Maddox. He’s from the town of White Plains in Western Kentucky. He was practicing the words he’ll use to introduce himself in Japan.

The piece also includes the voices of Kim McLeod from Lexington, Alex Heichelbech from Louisville, Justin Baker and Sam Covington from Arkansas and Ashley Totty from Tennessee. They are among the 800 Americans who are starting new jobs this summer with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.

The story was produced by WFPL’s Graham Shelby, who spent time in Fukushima himself. You can read about that here.