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ZAKZAK: Part 1: The Bunny is Crying

In a three part series, ZAKZAK takes a look at what lead to Nova's demise. Here's a translation of part 1.

The Bunny is Crying! Nova's collapse and the staff Part 1

Mornings started with "Have we been paid, yet?

English conversation school Nova grew rapidly by capturing the hearts of men and women, young and old, with its cute characters in TV commercials and the catch phase ekimae ryuugaku (study abroad in front of the station). The flip side was that the downward slide leading to its collapse was equally as quick. What happened in the company? The staff give their accounts of Nova's collapse in the first installment of this three-part series.

On the morning of July 27, a fax addressed to the staff was waiting for them when they arrived for work. The fax said that due problems with changes made to the accounting system, salaries were not deposited and that they should wait until the 31st.

It was a one-sided notice about the delay in paying salaries. The staff are paid on the 27th of each month, which also happens to be the same day that payments are made to many credit companies. It had been little more than a month since the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry announced its punishment of Nova on June 13. The Japanese staff could never have imagined in their wildest dreams that their pay would be late, and they scrambled to transfer money into their bank accounts to cover automatic withdrawals via their cell phones and call their parents to have them check their account balances.

The lack of explanation and the single fax regarding the delay in paying salaries, is legendary with Nova's president, Nozomu Sahashi. Much of the staff's sense of unease over the future was combined with anger and a feeling that this was the beginning of the end.

The chaos, however, was just beginning. July's salary was payed on August 1, but August's salaries were delayed until September 5. Salaries for September and October were never paid, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law

In the meantime, Sahashi and his executives never gave a single, concrete explanation for the delay in paying salaries, and when staff asked the accounting section, they gave the same reply over and over again: "We don't know." Then the head of Accounting and a lot of other employees suddenly quit.

With salaries unpaid, going to the bank to check their accounts became part of the daily commute for staff, and instead of "Good morning," the days began with, "Have we been paid, yet?" After letting out a sigh that their account balances had not changed, lunch was a trip to the supermarket to buy bread that was near its expiry date. This was their existence.

Hey, Mr. Sahashi! If you have any idea what it means to be the president of a company listed on the stock exchange, don't you think you should appear before the media and tell us like a man about your private fortune in excess of ¥10 billion you're rumored to have? Shouldn't you explain things yourself instead of sneaking around or giving comments through a representative? The Nova bunny is crying!

A history of Nova

August 1981: Nova Kikaku established

September 1981: First school opened at Shinsaibashi, Osaka

January 1986: Expanded into Tokyo area

August 1990: Established Nova

1995: Changed corporate name to Nova Corporation

2000: Established ekimae ryuugaku schools in all 47 prefectures

2002: Started TV commercials featuring the Nova bunny

2004: Listed on the JASDAQ Stock Exchange

June 2005: Reached 900 schools

Nova grew through the use of the catch phases ekimae ryuugaku (study abroad in front of the station) and ibunka komyunikeeshon (intercultural communication) and was the industry leader in 1993. As of the end of March 2006, Nova had a 64% share of the English conversation market.

ZAKZAK 2007/11/07

Original article

うさぎも泣いている! NOVA崩壊、社員は…(上)

「給料入ってた?」朝のあいさつに

愛らしいキャラクターを使ったテレビCMや、「駅前留学」などのキャッチフレーズで老若男女の心をつかみ、英会話学校市場で急成長を遂げたNOVA。その反動か、崩壊までのテンポも坂道を転げ落ちるように早かった。内部では一体何があったのか。社員たちの証言をもとに崩壊までの動きを3回にわたってお届けする。

7月27日朝、社員たちが会社に着くと、全社員あてに1枚のファクスが届いていた。

「経理課とのシステム変更がうまく作動せず、入金手続きができていないので31日まで待ってくれ」

給料の遅配に関する、一方的な通知だった。毎月27日は日本人社員の給料日であり、多くのクレジット会社などの引き落とし日にもあたる。6月13日に経済産業省の行政処分の発表があって、わずか1カ月余。多くの社員は給料の支払いが遅れるとは夢にも思っていなかったため、携帯電話で引き落とし口座に資金移動を行ったり、家族に連絡を取って入金を指示したり、大慌てとなった。

給料未払いにもつながりかねない遅配を、事前に何の説明もなく、ファクス1枚流すだけで済ますというのは、猿橋望前社長譲りのNOVAの伝統。怒りがこみ上げてくると同時に「ついに最終局面が始まったか」と先行きに不安を感じる社員も多かった。

実際、これが混乱の始まりだった。7月分の給料は8月1日に支払われたが、8月分は9月5日まで延び、9月分と10月分は未払いのまま、会社更生法の申請となった。

この間、猿橋前社長や経営幹部から、給料の遅延に関して具体的な説明は一切なく、経理課に尋ねても、「私たちには分かりません」と同じ回答を繰り返すだけ。そのうち突然、経理課の責任者と多くの社員が辞めてしまった。

給料が遅れ始めてから、社員たちは通勤途中に銀行に立ち寄るのが日課となり、朝のあいさつも「給料入ってた?」に変わった。預金残高を見て「今日も振り込まれていない」とため息をつき、昼食はスーパーマーケットで買った、賞味期限が近づいたパンで済ます。そんな生活が続いた。

猿橋前社長よ。上場企業の社長としての自覚があるのなら、マスコミの前に姿を現し、100億円を超えるとうわさされる私財を潔く吐き出すべきではないか。コソコソと隠れて代理人を通じてコメントを発信するのではなく、猿橋氏自身の言葉で説明する義務があるのではないか。NOVAうさぎが泣いているぞ!!

★NOVAの沿革

1981年8月、(有)ノヴァ企画設立。同9月、大阪・心斎橋に第1号拠点開設。86年1月、東京地区進出。90年8月、(株)ノヴァ設立、95年、(株)NOVAへ商号変更。2000年、「駅前留学」の拠点、全47都道府県に。02年、オリジナルキャラクター「NOVAうさぎ」のテレビCMスタート。04年、ジャスダックに株式上場。05年6月、拠点累計は900に。

「駅前留学」「異文化コミュニケーション」などをキャッチフレーズに成長し、93年に業界1位に。06年3月末の英会話学校市場の受講者数シェアは64%に達した。

ZAKZAK 2007/11/07

Japan: 

Comments

I know that this might not be a popular opinion but let's cut the poor guy some slack. Unlike 99.9% of you , I actually know the man and was on a first name basis with him during my tenure.
He built Nova up from nothing to over 900 schools. He employed over 35,000 foreign instructors over the years, most of whom would not have had an opportunity to live and work in Japan otherwise. Many people met and families began due to NOVA ( including my international one). The party is over. Back to reality. He gave you a chance and a life. He's not your dad, he doesn't have to take care of you anymore so grow up and get out from under Nova's wing.
Saruhashi was a great businessman. The most successful for profit education entrepreneur ever in Japan.
He tried his best, was responsible for creating a brand that will live on in Japanese pop culture longer than our lifespans. The government is to blame for driving Nova out of business with there overreaction to some consumer claims. You have them to thank, Not Saruhashi. A fine would have been enough. The sanctions where death. Saruhashi tried everything to save the company and your jobs. You haven't heard his side of the story and the way the abuse of him is going you might hear of his suicide before he gets the chance. He is being stoic during this and I have to respect him for that. I would have given up.

Please give the bashing a rest. It's over. Nova is dead. Get on with your lives. Let the man lick his wounds and recover too. He's a human being with feelings and a family.

I know many of you feel burned and disillusioned. It'll be OK. Most of you are young and able to go back home and get a real job in your own country. Leave Japan to the Japanese and live where you are needed.
If you have a family here and/or have no real world job skills due to wasting your prime years working for Nova you have a right to be upset. But- this is the wakeup call you needed.

I guess the Saruhashi bashing will go on a bit longer in the Japanese press and spill over into the foreign press but I think it will all be forgotten by the spring. A new broom sweeps clean. The Japanese have a short memory. And, I know many of you think your students need and love you but they really don't. They'll go study English elsewhere if they like and you'll be a distant memory.

KangoshiAre you taking the piss ?

Anders? Is that you?

Former HT , you are a dipshit- obviously Saruhashi is one of the worst business men ever in Japan. The man should be given no breaks- suicide would be the honourable solution or public flogging. The man has stolen billions of yen off teachers, students and landlords. He has shown no remorse and continually lied about his ability to pay wages. He is a childish , callous asshole. Your lack of any remorse for your complicity in his crimes - (yes you lied to Nova teachers,) shows us why many managers at Nova were a bunch of brown nosing yes men.

Former HT, I hope you are taking the piss. If not,you need your head looking at. Yes, he did build up a company that brought many people to Japan and I dare say that people who got out years ago might thank him for that. However, as to being a GREAT BUISNESSMAN, thanks to his greed and stupidity, he's managed to shoot himself in the foot and left upwards of 5,000 people unemployed. He's now going to go down in history for being the idoit who has caused one of the biggest business failings in Japan ever. He's also going to remembered as the coward who didn't have the (monkey)nuts to come forward and speak to his staff, who after all his bullshit, at least deserve an apology.

lick my left ba!! while sniffing the right. Does a great business man neglect to communicate with his employees about what is going on? Does he leave them high and dry in the end? Does he get ousted by his own company? This list (I hope you realize) could go on and on, however I am sure your closed eyes would not believe an ounce of it.

If this post contributes to the man's (and i mean man in the loosest possible way) suicide then I will feel that justice will be done and my hatred for him will cease. Any apology he could offer would come across as insincere as he has made no real attempt to apologise in the past. Die Sahashi die! And I don't wish someone's death lightly.

Sahashi was a terrible businessman and I look forward to talking about his whole life in t past tense. Head Teacher is misguided when he says Sahashi gave us a life and a chance. He raped us from day one but no one held a gun to our heads. He gave us a job. We worked for him and there was nothing given by the company or the man. Everything we got, we earned. But in the end when the tallying is done, he gave nothing, only took. To imply he was generous and to chastise us is your opinion and you are entitled to it. Just don't expect any sympathy from us. The fact that you occupied a management position in the company exemplifies the disregard for instructor well being that was held by management and which contributed to the company's demise.

He left many people stranded, lied to the bitter end (when he could be bothered speaking to us through pathetic faxes) and by all accounts did nothing of substance to save the company but only to save his own ass.

You talk of knowing him but did he know you? Even those cocksuckers closest to him turned, including his bitch Judas Lunquist. I hope Lundquist commits suicide too as he was a party to all of the criminal activity but took the extra step of turning rat on his friend.

As much as it has troubled me, Nova without a doubt deserved the sanctions. The business failed because of the now well documented failed business model. Not knowing this again shows your managerial incompetence.

It is not us that should leave Japan. I am enduring these hardships because I love this country despite its problems. I can only hope that Sahashi does indeed find some honour/guilt and kill himself.

I generally dont subscribe to profanity on these posts as I feel it clouds up open debate, but former HT, you are a seriously fcuked up messed up cnut. And I do not say that lightly. So in your mind, the generosity that Monkey Bridge showed you and your coterie of hangers on and bootlickers makes up for all the other evil deeds he perpetrated on over 350 000 people. Because at the end of the day, its not just the teachers that were raped in all of this, the students were also badly burned. Liabilities in student fees mounts to more than 40 BILLION yen; how many lifetimes would it take you to make that sort of money, you jackass? Comment is free, but you should just go and hang. You are an insensitive unsavoury piece of rat scrotum.

"He's a human being with feelings and a family."

This is incorrect. He may be a human being with a family, but his egomania wiped out his feelings years ago. I think the last of his feeling for others died in 1989.

Former HT, your fond anecdotes of a Nova 10 years past are neither helpful nor welcome, and your blind indifference to the crimes (yes, CRIMES) that Nova has perpetrated speak volumes. Trip unexpectedly, choke on a scrotum and depart already.

The continued chorus of crying NOVA whiners!! Awesome!!

"Has stolen billions of yen off of teachers, students and landlords!"

"The crimes of NOVA"

"Oh, Saruhashi, die"

Too, too funny. Bottom line, Nova was a crap company. Anyone with even the tiniest ounce of intelligence knew that. If you didn't get what you wanted then left, you're a fucking FOOL! End of story. "Oh, but the poor, poor students!" Like any of you really care. Suckers shouldn't have laid out so much money--no one forced them to!

As stated before, Nova was a great foot in the door--if any of you failed to take advantage of that and find something better, you've only got yrselves to blame. "Oh, but Nova ripped us off--charged us triple the apartment rent!" Those apartments were a good deal for those coming in--no key money, no deposit, fully furnished. If you failed to see that it was a ripoff to stay and "couldn't find a place--no one will rent to gaijin!" once again you're a fucking FOOL!

Please, head back to yr respective countries and sell used cars, shear sheep, work at Tim Horton's---anything. Or don't, and continue to post here--I sure do love reading it!!

obviously yer a fellow canadian, so i wont wade into you..so muc.....ah fuck it, sure
i will..

it could have been you guy..just as easily, and then I wouldnae have your holier-than-thou troll-rant to sift through.

youre right about nova-casa-de-ripoff...who else did you know in osaka who could give you a place fresh off the boat?..but theres no way a Y66000 yen/month shin-osaka shithole apartment with only a small tv and a love seat from 1984, a drawer with some random assortment of forks and one spoon qualifies as "fully furnished"..

and those cvnts at accomodation had the balls to charge me and my girl 66G EACH for 2 rooms/12 mats total.

i live in a 2-story HOUSE now with more space in one of my rooms, than in that entire apartment, for half the price...off of a park...(the neighbour is a cunt though)

i liked your hortons reference..but that doesnt mean i am your buddy eh?...i prefer half english toffee, half french vanilla...screw you and your attitude, and screw you for making me miss tim hortons!

key money in of itself is a fucking bribe no one should ever have to pay!...so what you said is like saying to a rape victim, "the good news, is that he didnt take your purse too"

and i have had people tell me they dont rent to gaijin...is it racism?..once burned twice shy?..i dunno.

of course no JAPANESE person would ever trash an apartment....or a neighbourhood....or a city...or China.

Don't insult me. I'm certainly not Canadian, thank fucking god. No, it couldn't have been me, you see, because I'm not an IDIOT. Nova worked fine for me, I saved a shitload of money and got out long ago.

Key money is what it is. I may not like it, clearly you don't, most Japanese people definitely don't. However, it's how things are done in Japan. Crying about it does no good. Deal with it.

So some Japanese don't like renting to foreigners, so what? Find one who does.

Oh that's right--you're canadian! Home of smiling happy fun people who love and accept all those washed upon her majestic shores. Spare me. Imagine yourself a penniless African, speaking no English (or French) and trying to set yourself up. Easy? Maybe, but I doubt it.

I agree that Sahashi created a strong brand and that he is the most successful Japanese lesson peddler ever. He really does deserve what he's getting though. He was the architect of Nova's demise. METI didn't sink Nova -- Sahashi and the carpetbaggers and yes-men he surrounded himself with did. I don't doubt that he was a charismatic, even nice, person face-to-face. If I remember freshman psychology correctly, psychopaths generally are. They also have no concept of guilt or consequences -- other people are there to be exploited. He either has some form of social dissociative disorder or is a colossal asshole with a surfeit of arrogance and greed. Either prognosis is not good.

Sure I met losers at Nova but you meet them everywhere, in any company. Hell, it's a subjective term and to some both you and i are losers too. I mean really, "Eat a bowl of fuck" is such a winning comment!

The only reason i'm really responding to your post is the huge contradiction in its message. Nova teachers are losers. Yes, all Nova teachers even ex ones like ME! All Nova teachers are losers, a waste of time and money, are the scum of the Earth etc EXCEPT for the good ones you met. I think it's obvious that there are probably a few hundred good teachers you didn't meet either.

My real point is that only a loser would spend their time pouring through posts that don't concern them, picking on people anonymously, and picking on people who have just had their lives turned to shit. What's more, only a loser would make an absurd generalistion about the characters of those he hasn't met even if it contradicts his own personal experiences.

oh go blow a trannie...you should be so lucky to be canadian...i guess you must be the ugly american everyone talks about then, cuz nobody else would know who/what tim horton is.

and uh, i did find a landlord who rents to foreigners..the one i pay now.

we certainly seem more smiley and happy than you, ya miserable troll...im sure your land is just as fair and free...

cunt.

i didnt pay key money..like you did...sucker.

The headline pretty much says it all, wouldn't you say?

Well, hooray for you IdiotJin! You sure pulled the wool on those horribly racist, thieving Japanese, didn't you!

I'm sure your majestic, key money free place is really nice, and in a great location as well.

Don't you feel wonderfully proud of yr crafty self!

Too bad you have no job!

Ha fucking ha!

What is it with Canadians (mainly from Ontario it seems) speaking as if they're Scottish? I wouldnae do that, ya cunt. Drop it already.

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