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  • Follow-up: NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on June 10th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

    Hi Blog.  Second in a series of follow-ups.  Former Eikaiwa boss Saruhashi finally admits he done wrong.  But neglects to mention how all the unpaid teachers left in the lurch will still be left in the lurch.  This was once the largest employer of NJ in Japan?  Saru mo ki kara ochiru, as they say.  But this is a mighty fall by a money skimmer with a money spinner.  And a shady company from start to finish anyway, setting the business model for other eikaiwas out to screw over both their students and their teachers.  Throw the book at this guy, and make him cough up what he owes to his teachers.  So that others don’t do the same and think it’s “just regular business practice”.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    The Japan Times, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Nova chief admits skimming funds

    Staff writer
    OSAKA — The former president of Nova Corp. admitted Monday he siphoned off employment benefit funds just before the language school giant went bankrupt in 2007 but pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, claiming he used the funds for employees.
    Nozomu Sahashi, 57, who once headed one of Japan’s largest and most popular English conversation school chains, is charged with funneling nearly ¥320 million from employment benefit funds in July 2007 by transferring the money to a bank account belonging to an affiliate, which has not been named.  

    “I apologize to the students and employees for all of the trouble I caused, but it was not my intention to do wrong,” Sahashi told the Osaka District Court at the opening of his trial. “I don’t think I can judge whether what I did constitutes embezzlement or not.”

    Oh yeah?  Rest of the article at:




    7 Responses to “Follow-up: NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court”

    1. scott Says:

      “It was not my intention to do wrong”. Ha! How about rephrasing it to something like – “It wasn’t my intention to get caught!” What arrogance on his behalf to think people are so gullible to believe such comments.

    2. TJJ Says:

      If he can prove that he used the money to pay back the customers who had already paid for lessons they couldn’t recieve, like he said, then I’ll be mollified. But I’m not holding my breath until that happens. I think there’s a much higher chance that the money is in some secret account, or has been transferred to a relative.

      — Don’t forget the teachers he didn’t pay, too.

    3. Nadrew Says:

      Suspended sentence…

    4. level3 Says:

      Seems open and shut to me.

      METI’s sanction put the final nail in the coffin in February for a speedy descent into
      bankruptcy, at best.
      July was when they actually stopped paying some staff, and had announced the summer bonus would be “delayed until October” July is the key because the wishful thinking and lies couldn’t work anymore, reality struck home and it was time for the dishonest preseident/owner to get all the cash he could for himself before there was none left at all.
      August was when staff and teachers basically starting working for no pay, though most wouldn’t know it until the September 15 payday, when nothing arrived in their bank accounts, and Saruhashi lied over and over, suckering many into another 1 – 2 months of unpaid work.

      Don’t see how transferring funds to an unnamed affiliate company facilitates refunding it to the students.

      Just a pity Saruhashi isn’t being prosecuted for far worse crimes of fraud and illegal labor practices, not to mention stealing teachers’ rent money.

    5. Charles Says:

      What are the chances of this crook getting off with a “slight” slap on the wrist, perhaps a few months in the hole and won’t have his assets frozen?
      Because of slimy business practices, he has become the poster boy for many Eikawa’s to continue the same perpetual cycle of mistreatment and inequality of NJ working in these establishments.

    6. Jonathan Says:

      I worked for Nova in 1994-1995, and a number of things about the organization seemed clear to me even then: that it was a terrible place to work; that it was also a terrible place to study English which, while it could be made cheap if you bought a really large lesson ticket package, it could not be made a good value; the most (but not all) of the head teachers and other higher-ranking foreigners working there were really parasitic scum (probably all, in the case of area managers. If you were a really sleazy head teacher, you’d probably become an area manager); that the whole thing looked/smelled like some kind of Ponzi scheme; that the only thing that made it a going concern were probably the large numbers of students who bought packages and abandoned Nova before they used all their tickets.

      At the Nova school where I worked, in Nishi-Funabashi, the majority of the the student folders fell into that category, as told to me by a head teacher who was nevertheless an honest and skilled individual who in his private opinion didn’t like it any better than I did and thus was not destined to make it at Nova). The other head teacher at that school was a real monster, and she thus become an area manager while I worked there.

      Being married and having young children and very busy with my work, I completely missed that Nova had gone bankrupt in 2007. Now that I know, all I can say is that I’m not surprised, and I’m rather glad, actually. Not out of spite (OK, maybe a little :) but because Nova was quite simply a company that did not deserve to be in business. I feel sorry for all the teachers who got stiffed on pay, and even sorrier for the Japanese staff who worked there; if you think working conditions for teachers were bad (and they were), they were far worse for Japanese staff. For example, one of the staff at the Nishi-Funabashi school who lived in the area was ordered to transfer to a school that was over an hour away; because she was caring for her aged father, this put her in a position of having to choose between taking care of her dad and quitting her job. Appeals to Nova to leave her in Nishi-Funabashi went unheeded.

      That same kind of perversity had me commuting over an hour to Nishi-Funabashi (in Chiba-ken) from Kotake-Mukaihara, two stops out from Ikebukuro on the Yurakucho-sen. All requests to be moved to one of the half-dozen or so Nova schools within 15 minutes of where I lived were denied, and the “If you don’t like it, you can quit when your contract is up” was clear. By the time I’d been there 10 months, I had a part-time job on my days off from Nova, and that school offered me a lead teacher position, so I shoved off from Nova with 2 months left to go.

      I hope they really throw the book at Saruhashi; it was obvious back then even that he was running a crooked operation; I’m surprised he managed to keep it limping along for 12 more years after I left.

    7. john k Says:

      So long as they apologise and appear sincere, whats the crime?…well, that is how the judge will see it, as the ‘custom’ is to apologise. Anything else has no importance here…only custom is important. Right/wrong…what bearing has that on customs…none. So don’t expect an “honourable” outcome!

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