Born in Tokyo in 1947, Jō Kondō studied composition at Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1977-78 he spent a year in New York on a scholarship from the John D Rockefeller III Fund, and in 1986 resided in London as a British Council Senior Fellow. From 1983, Kondō taught in several universities in Japan, including Ochanomizu University, Tokyo University of the Arts, and Elisabeth University of Music. He is Professor Emeritus of Ochanomizu University, Tokyo. In 2012 he was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His compositions, ranging from solo pieces and chamber works to opera and orchestral, as well as electronic works, are published by UYMP, UK, and CF Peters, New York. Many of the works are recorded and have been widely performed and featured at international festivals worldwide.

Kondō has also written extensively on musical matters, and since 1979 has published seven books spelling out in detail his own aesthetic and compositional ideas.