UK embassy to help Japan teachers

Other News Materials 28 October 2007 02:00

The UK embassy in Tokyo has said it will help hundreds of teachers after Japan's largest language schools chain filed for protection from creditors.

Nova Corp, which mainly offers English classes, did not pay its 4,000 foreign staff for October, unions have said.

In a statement, the embassy said it was unable to provide financial assistance to those affected, but could help them contact family and friends.

It added that its officials were "closely monitoring the situation".

The statement also urged employees to contact regional Nova offices, local labour advisory centres and the General Union, which represents the company's teachers.

One Nova teacher, Alan Entwistle, 22, originally from the Wirral, told the BBC News website how he and his girlfriend Amy Jenkins were hit by the company's collapse.

He said: "Neither of us have been paid for October and we've been told we've got to leave our apartment at the end of the month.

"We've ended up pawning some of our clothes. Now we are dependent on Amy's savings. It's a heartbreaking situation to be in."

The firm, which mainly offers English classes, has more than 800 schools and 400,000 students across Japan.

But in June, it was ordered to suspend part of its operations, after a court ruled it had misled customers in advertisements about some services.

Since then, student enrolment has fallen sharply and Nova has accumulated debts of up to JPY50bn ($437m, ?213m).

Its 2,000 Japanese staff have not been paid since July, union officials said.

Nova has now closed all its schools, Kyodo news agency said.

A court-appointed trustee will sort out its debts and seek sponsors to rebuild its business, Japanese media reports said.

Nova is one of Japan's major employers of foreign nationals. Murdered Briton Lindsay Anne Hawker was working for Nova at the time of her death. ( BBC )