Shawn over at letsjapan.org has devoted several posts in the past couple of months to the dire financial straits of his ex-employer, Geos, an English-practicing “Eikaiwa” in Japan and one of the Big Four (Nova, ECC, Aeon, and GEOS). Now I guess it’s the Big Two, but they’re already talking about Aeon . . .
I posted a comment there, because my feeling is that the Eikaiwa industry in Japan is simply a holding pen for working holiday visa holders from Australia, the U.K. and Canada. As usual, we provide the defense and the rich trade contacts for Japan, and Japan thanks us by opening up jobs for people from other countries. But in fairness, youth must have its day. It just wouldn’t seem so lopsided if there were one American here for each Japanese who settles in America, rather than for every six Japanese who settle in America.
(Imagine if America played the game like Japan, and Japan had to find jobs for all six people that America sent back for every American who goes home. But I digress . . . )
What impresses me about Shawn’s site is its realism. He can be treated a little controversially on the net the same as Debito, but both men are on to something about an aspect of Japan. Shawn has focused on the ridiculous excuse for an English teaching system, Debito on the civil rights issues. I, myself, of course am aware of internet abuse from the days in 2003 when I started blogging in my old community back home. So I don’t go out of my way to raise too much controversy. But I do, of course, have my opinions.
I notice that G.communication has been brought in, like it was for Nova, to do a mop up. The last thing the Japanese bureaucracy wants is the embarrassment of more press articles overseas about another “English school” that went bust. These things get treated, anymore, like when the FDIC comes in and takes over a bank back home.
Which major chain is next? It’s anybody’s guess. But I think the Geos bankruptcy puts pressure on the remaining two, if for the simple reason that people will be afraid to deposit their money in advance, for fear of losing it several months later. Established schools that have government support (like the community college and adult extension system in America) don’t have this problem.
But since the Japanese use the Eikaiwas as a holding pen for working holiday visa holders, trying to get an education through them is a bit riskier than a community college . . .