Recently, Nova has been in the press yet again for all the wrong reasons, and across the land schools have been closing, students have been issued with documentation promising reimbursement of their school fees at a later date, and staff were paid late for the previous month prompting many to walk out. Whether or not they get paid this month remains to be seen. Many are asking the question, is this the end of the largest Eikaiwa in Japan, and what significance does it convey for the rest of the ESL market here? Not only in Eikaiwa schools, but also in the University sector where tenure in English departments is also being cut or reduced to a part-time basis.
A major issue coming out of Nova’s implosion and underhand business practices, is the culture here of illegalities, not only within its confines but in other major English teaching chains and individual schools. The failure of accountability of these institutions in their treatment and misuse of staff, especially considering the fact that many of the aforementioned schools do not provide teachers with appropriate insurance, particularly shakai hoken (pension/insurance coverage) is in direct violation of Japanese law. The SIH (Social Insurance Agency) is now actively catching up with many of the concerned perpetrators, making it less profitable and for many, impossible to remain afloat. It does not appear to bode well for the sustainable future of the ESL business here in Japan.
I always look forward to receiving my copy of your magazine and I greatly enjoyed the interesting interview in the last issue with international intellectual property law expert Yukio Nagasawa. In particular, I was surprised to hear of the systemic differences between the US and Japan in regard to trademark and patent application processes. However, at the end of the article I wanted to access the website and found the link to be dead. It was printed as www.yakio-nagasawa.com but I tried and found that the correct address is actually www.yukio-nagasawa.com. Perhaps other readers experiencing similar difficulties should be advised.
Thanks for your comments, we shall try harder to avoid such mistakes in the future. We apologize for this confusion. For readers wishing to find out more about Yukio Nagasawa I encourage them to visit his website: www.yukio-nagasawa.com
J@pan Inc Magazine, Nov/Dec 2007