Government pledges to help Nova find rehab sponsors

The government has promised to offer support for Nova Corp. in seeking corporate sponsors to help its turnaround efforts, lawyers working for the failed language school chain said Monday.

“We came here to ask for help to find sponsors and also for support to Nova students who have been unable to take lessons,” lawyer Toshiaki Higashibata told reporters after visiting the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry.

METI accepted the request, Higashibata said, although details such as how deeply the ministry will be involved have yet to be discussed.

He also said the number of Nova students who cannot study stands at some 300,000 because the company has halted classes nationwide.

The Osaka District Court last week appointed Higashibata and another lawyer to serve as administrators of Nova’s assets.

The court granted Osaka-based Nova protection from creditors Friday following its nonpayment of wages to employees.

Higashibata said he has not been able to contact ousted Nova President Nozomu Sahashi, whose whereabouts has been unknown for some time.

Despite the government’s promise of assistance, however, METI appeared to be struggling to decide how to proceed.

Shinji Fujino, METI’s service industry division director, said in a news conference, “We will move between Nova and industry bodies and will also consider an intermediary role in seeking sponsors if requested.”

But he admitted that the ministry does not know what commitment it can legally make.

“We are not authorized by any specific laws” in cases like this, Fujino said. “So we have to examine what we can do.”

Even if Nova finds a sponsor as it rehabilitates itself, many of its teachers have found themselves scouring a job market already flooded with job seekers. Public job centers say they have constantly received inquiries from such teachers, while the Australian, British and New Zealand embassies have offered assistance for finding work, although their help is limited because of their public nature.