Neither JAL or ANA hire Americans on permanent hire. ANA prefers only Asian cits. for any type of hire. JAL will still hire Americans on contract based only on certain fleets. Sorry if this is bad news for you. But if you live in Japan for long enough you can try for cit. ship. Our immigration dept. is a pain though.
I'm just speculating here, but I think that "JALways" is going to be a long-haul, low-cost carrier for Japan Air Lines. It is essentially the same thing that Delta and USAirways did. The so-called, "airline within an airline".
Airline competition in Japan has been very limited, and only recently have new start carriers begun operations there. AirDo is an example of that and I think that investors were just awaiting to see what happened before they jumped in with both feet. I think that JAL is trying to beat other potential operators to the punch and capture the long haul/no frills market. Flying to destinations on the PacRim is very lucrative, especially from Hawaii and the west coast markets.
I spent a lot of time in the Orient and was stationed in Japan for two years. Personally, I LOVED every second that I was over there. However, it does require some adjustments to lving in a different culture, but the Japanese are very America friendly. You won't be lacking for anything there that you couldn't get here in the states. You will pay more for it, but even "Starbucks" has a significant presence in Japan along with McDonalds, Disney and even 7-11! If you love junk food than Japan is the place to be, they love it!
An earlier post mentioned "anal-type training" Yup... The Japanese are a very disciplined workforce and they follow the book to the letter in most cases. We used to work with the Japanese Navy (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) and I can vouch for this. I would also expect a very thorough syllabus, and they will more than likely go to great pains not to embarass you even if you bust the ride...
Lastly, from what I hear the domicile is HNL, and only the training is in Japan. More than likely at JAL's facility in Tokyo. So, if you get hired, relax and enjoy your time off there as much as possible. eat out a lot, ride the trains, see the sites and hospitality of a truly great population.
As far as the anal training is concerned, expect sonewhere in the region of 6 months of ground school before you even see a sim. They will expect you to know EVERYTHING about the aircraft you will be flying.... all those extremely detailled schematics that you never really looked at before will have to be completely memorized.
Cockpit culture runs along the lines of 'the captain is God and he is always right', although this is very, very slowly changing. Don't expect much in the way of CRM. (I don't know this from personal experience but have close frends at ANA and Korean Air).
On the bright side, the pay can be excellent and a HNL base is great if you like that sort of thing. Remember, however that you will have no jumpseat opportunities to get back to the mainland.
One other point I'd add about the training. Be able to memorize your checklists step-by-step and word-for-word, and be able to execute the procedures step-by-step and word-for-word. No deviations of any kind are permitted - at all. Japanese people excel at memorization and rote execution. Don't do it to the letter and you'll be history.