Someone on the Livejournal JET Community posted thier letter of non-acceptance. I found this part interesting:
Generally speaking, the following are some of the most common reasons applicants are not selected: missing documents (such as official transcripts, proof of graduation, recommendation letters, or proof of study abroad) and/or failure to meet eligibility requirements or to effectively address necessary points in statement of purpose.
It sounds to me like the reasons for not getting an interview have more to do with following the directions in the application packet than with being more or less qualified than other candidates. In fact, the letter mentions nothing about your answers to the questions in the application.
I find that really interesting. It looks like the application portion of the job selection process is more of a filter to weed out people who can't follow directions. After all, all of the applicants are technically qualified for the job since we all have degrees and we all speak English.
Of course I might be completely wrong on this and I might sound like a self-righteous asshole right now, but I have a feeling that I might be right.
I will now step off of my pedestal and post the 'necessary points' that are needed in the statement of purpose:
1. Reasons for wishing to participate in the JET program
2. Why I want to go to Japan
3. Why I am interested in the ALT position
Make a case using:
1. Past/present experience
2. Professional skills
3. Relevant interests
4. Personal qualities
5. How I feel these will be useful to me as an ALT
1. What I hope to gain
4. What effect I hope to have on the international and Japanese community as a result of my participation in the JET program