Let the lesson buyer beware, Tokyo pamphlet warns

Coinciding with the debut of consumer protection guidelines, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government published a pamphlet Mar. 17 urging Japanese to be cautious before choosing a foreign-language school.

The guidelines, drafted under an existing consumer protection ordinance, go into effect April 1 and oblige language schools to give detailed explanations of their lessons and business operations to prospective customers. The guidelines were drafted by the metropolitan government in October amid mounting complaints about foreign language schools.

Under the new guidelines, schools are required to give prospective customers written explanations of lessons, staff, organization, facilities and fees. Tokyo is the first prefectural government to enact language-school guidelines and base them on an ordinance. But the guidelines will not cover Japanese-language schools for foreigners. The 26 items of information to be shown include the number of lecturers, the length of the classes, fee system details and steps for canceling a contract, metropolitan government officials said.