While the Nova bankruptcy may not go down as the most important day in world history it will be long remembered in Japan. The collapse of Nova was the largest bankruptcy in post war history affecting thousands of foreign instructors and Japanese staff alike.
On 23 October, in memory of the collapse, the General Union and its members appealed to the “Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution” (the auditor of the Public Prosecutors) for a re-examination of the decision of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office to drop charges against Sahashi for non-payment wages.
While some the charges against Sahashi for embezzling the staff social fund are proceeding many important charges have been dropped. Japanese Labour Standards Law clearly states that failure to pay wages is a punishable offence, but the prosecutors have chosen to drop the charges as Sahashi, “had the intent to pay but couldn’t as the business situation deteriorated” and he “had put in all his personal money to pay the wages”. By dropping the charges we believe the Public Prosecutors’ Office is setting a dangerous precedent.
This would mean that if the employers used the excuse that “the business situation has deteriorated” and they have “put in all their personal money to pay the wages,” they would be let off even when they were responsible for an enormous amount of unpaid wages like at NOVA,” which virtually nullifies the provision of the “penalty for not paying the wages” set out in the Labour Standards Law.
For working people like us, wages are vital for our livelihood. To make sure all the employers in the country fulfill the duty to pay wages, the General Union will pursue the issue of Sahashi’s legal liability for non-payment of wages at the “Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution” again.