Nova founder Sahashi took dictatorial approach

Nozomu Sahashi, founder and former president of Nova Corp., was known as a dictatorial person who had to decide everything himself as he drastically expanded the firm’s business.

Even after the firm was ordered in June by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry to partially suspend its operations, Sahashi made efforts to raise funds for the firm’s operation. However, he was ousted from the post of president in a “coup d’etat” mounted by his business partners.

Sahashi, who studied in Paris after graduating from high school, was 29 when he founded Nova Corp. in 1981.

The firm became the nation’s largest English-conversation school chain operator in a short period due to its promotions that used easy-to-understand catch-phrases, such as “ekimae ryugaku” (study abroad near your train station), and the Nova rabbit mascot.

When the firm was established, other English-conversation schools were charging as much as 10,000 yen per lesson. But the firm offered lessons for only 1,800 yen and gained broad support from students.

While he was known as a person of ideas, he was extremely autocratic. Some employees of the firm found his business expansion policy excessive. However, Sahashi reportedly simply gave orders and would not listen to arguments.

After the firm began suffering financially, Sahashi single-handedly began looking for firms wishing to form business tie-ups with Nova and attempted to secure operating funds. However, he never disclosed the details of his negotiations to the firm’s executives.

Whenever the executives asked him to explain the details of his negotiations, he just asked that his efforts not be interrupted, saying he would soon be able to conclude a business tie-up.

Sahashi, whose whereabouts lately have been largely unknown, has recently sent orders to subordinates via e-mail and other means.