The tragedy of the English-teaching company Nova is a gripping and revealing one. That students should have their fees returned and teachers and staff be given their salaries should go without saying. That the company had serious management and leadership problems should be equally obvious. Still, the Nova episode is reason to consider several aspects of Japanese society that shaped the rise and fall of one of Japan’s best-known companies.

Before the revelations of so many problems, Nova seemed a clear example of the best side of Japanese economics. The company started with little more than rent for “ekimae” (station-front) office space and a cute pink bunny icon for advertising. That a multibillion yen business could still be built from the ground up seemed to show that Japan’s system was not too rigid to allow innovation. Yet, the sad ending shows that the system is not so lax that improprieties can continue forever.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.