Lily English Center barred from doing on-base business at Yokosuka
January 10, 2005
Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, commander Capt. King Dietrich sought to clarify in a television report aired last Monday that no commercial activities are allowed in government quarters or any other facilities on the military base.
Dietrich said he has barred one company, Lily English Center, which pairs English teachers on base with Japanese students off base, from conducting any business on the base.
“We had a couple of problems with them and I have recently signed a letter banning them from doing any business on the base,” he told viewers.
“If you have been teaching with Lily English Center, you need to stop because they are not allowed to do any business on base here,” he said. “That means that if you are a teacher living on base, you cannot bring a Lily English Center student on base to give them classes in your house or one of the eating facilities … anywhere on the base.
“That does not preclude you from going off base and meeting your students,” he added.
The Lily English Center is owned by Yuri Aoki, who has offices in Yokosuka and Tokyo. Her company matches English-language instructors with Japanese students and arranges home-stays within Japan and abroad.
“They have been involved in some practices that we do not approve after we warned them,” Dietrich said in the report.
The ban came as a shock to Aoki, she said.
“I was shocked to learn that our teachers on base teaching English at their home violates the rules,” she said during a telephone interview Friday.
She said that she received a letter signed by Dietrich at the end of December.
“It was dated Dec. 8 and came to our Yokosuka office, but it was only late December when the letter was forwarded to my Tokyo office,” she said.
“I am confused indeed, but at the same time I feel sorry if whatever we were doing offended the base regulations,” she said.
Her company’s trouble with base leaders started last April, when Dietrich announced through the same television program that base residents no longer could host Japanese students overnight as a part of paid English lessons.
Following Dietrich’s April announcement, the base legal affairs department issued a policy letter to clarify the rules.
The letter stated: “English teachers, whether privately employed or self-employed, are not authorized to have students stay overnight ... or to charge their students or anyone else for staying overnight in government quarters.”
Aoki said she discontinued the overnight stay program at all U.S. bases after she learned the program violated base rules.
Aoki’s company still offers the home-stay program, but only with teachers who have no connections with the military, she said.
The rules for teaching English vary from base to base. At some bases, teachers must register with base officials; at others, no registration is required. Overnight visits have another set of regulations. While some bases forbid any type of home-stay, others will allow it if no additional money is exchanged on top of a lesson fee.
“When I started the program two years ago, I checked with the base and I was assured that it was acceptable as long as we do not charge a fee for the stay,” Aoki said. “But when I was informed by a base official in September that it was not legally acceptable, I immediately discontinued the program on the military base,” she said.
She said that another “unintentional” offense her company made against base regulations was a party held last May on Yokosuka, hosted by one of her teachers who resided on the base.
“I thought all the legal requirements were cleared,” she said. After the event, while they were preparing for another event for Halloween, she learned that such an event on the base was not allowed, she said.
“As soon as we learned of it, we changed the party site from on base to off base,” she said.
She said that she had no intention of doing anything that violates base rules. Finding out what the rules are, however, has not always been easy, she said.
“It was a stunning discovery that it was illegal to give English lessons at on-base homes,” she said.
“But, as long as it is against the regulations, I will comply with them,” she said.
“I sincerely apologize for causing various troubles,” she said.