Saturday, September 15, 2007

Will NOVA be no more?

Latest (Sept 20)
NOVA looks to shut down schools amid financial crisis

Major English language teaching chain NOVA is considering shutting down a large number of schools, it emerged on Thursday.

NOVA's income from lesson fees has decreased since the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued the language school a partial business suspension order over its practices. Because of this, the school is apparently pushing for a turnaround, hoping to cut costs by trimming and merging unprofitable schools.

NOVA currently operates more than 900 schools, but problems with efficiency have emerged.

Officials close to the group said NOVA has already been trimming and merging schools, focusing on unprofitable schools with low student numbers, but in the future the chain will also apply the move to major schools in cities where rents are high and there is more than one school in the same area. As many as 100 schools could be affected.

The language school will reportedly make considerations for students, allowing them to take lessons at other nearby schools. (Mainichi)
What started as a rumor (late pay checks) has become bad reality added to the assaults of NOVA's recent woes. NOVA is a direct competitor (I know my school is not even David against NOVA's Goliath) of mine and it has not been good to foreigners who come to Japan to teach. Here are some observable signs that NOVA is seriously in trouble:
  • slapped with business restrictions
  • no more TV commercials
  • no more street campaigns
  • closing of a number of schools (kids division)
  • delayed payment to creditors
  • late pay (Japanese staff and now foreign)
No pay today. They say it will go though on the 18th but who knows. Gee I’m really starting to get a sore throat right about now. Maybe I’ll have to call in sick tomorrow. I might be better off using that time to look for another job. Everyone heard about how the Japanese Staff didn’t get paid on time last month, but I thought that NOVA couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to do it to their foreign staff. We will just leave!!! I urge all NOVA staff to contact their embassy and make an official complaint. If NOVA does go bust, this will have very bad repercussions for Japans image abroad. Surely the government cannot just let this happen?!?!?!?!?! (a comment on

A recent decline in the stock price following the release of Nova's 2008 fiscal year first quarter financial[15] was preceded by news of a delay in payment of wages and bonuses to some employees.[16] Nova explained that the delay in the monthly wages was due to change in its payment system and personnel management and accounting sections that had not been completed on time and that the summer bonus delay until October was a business necessity that required employee co-operation. [17] Indications of an impending financial crisis stemmed from a rapid increase in refund claims that total nearly 5,000,000,000 Yen nationwide.[17] An Aug. 21st article in the Tokyo Kezai, Nova was described as repeatedly delaying payment to business partners and banks, falling into arrears for printing costs at the end of July, asking an ad agency to defer a payment.[18] Nova's 2008 first quarter financial showed a loss of 4,300,000,000 Yen, and a %19 decrease in sales compared to the previous year period and overall %19 decrease in reoccurring profit.[15] Nova cited a decrease in the number of students and deterioration of its image as an explanation.[19][20] taken from wikipedia

Thursday, September 06, 2007

U.S. bases scramble as Typhoon Fitow blows into Japan

Above is an animated gif of near-real time cloud movement in Japan, constantly updated by

U.S. military officials secured planes and ships, canceled or shortened school days and told some nonessential base personnel to stay home Thursday in preparation for Typhoon Fitow. The storm was expected to bring powerful winds and heavy rain to the Kanto Plain later in the day before moving toward Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. Stars and Stripes
Typhoon #9 (as known in Japan) is headed straight for Tokyo. I'm some 50 miles from the capital so we'll probably be under the full force of the tropical cyclone. It will make landfall approximately 9:00pm local time on Sept 6, 2007.

I'm still working but I don't expect anyone to show up. So it's a semi-day-off for me . I went to the supermarket earlier to stock up on water and instant noddles. I hardly ever drink bottled water and the last time I had a cup noddle was years ago. But heck with it coming head on, god only knows.
A typhoon is reportedly approaching the Japanese capital, Tokyo, sparking fears of flooding, landslides and high winds.

Japan's Meteorological Agency says at last report, Typhoon Fitow, was about 500-kilometres south of Tokyo, with wind gusts to 180 kilometres an hour.

The agency has warned of possible flooding in a number of areas, including western Tokyo, and issued landslide warnings for regions north of the capital.

The typhoon is forecast to strengthen before making landfall near the capital on Friday.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Colorful Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi

The many spectacular colors of the Rho Ophiuchi (oh'-fee-yu-kee) clouds highlight the many processes that occur there. The blue regions shine primarily by reflected light. Blue light from the star Rho Ophiuchi and nearby stars reflects more efficiently off this portion of the nebula than red light. The Earth's daytime sky appears blue for the same reason. The red and yellow regions shine primarily because of emission from the nebula's atomic and molecular gas. Light from nearby blue stars - more energetic than the bright star Antares - knocks electrons away from the gas, which then shines when the electrons recombine with the gas. The dark regions are caused by dust grains - orn in young stellar atmospheres - which effectively block light emitted behind them. The Rho Ophiuchi star clouds, well in front of the globular cluster M4 visible above on far lower left, are even more colorful than humans can see - the clouds emits light in every wavelength and from the radio to the gamma-ray.